What’s going on in your community?

Let me first admit that I am not someone who wants to be up in my neighbours’ business any more than I want my neighbours up in mine. I like knowing people to say hello and smile at, but I don’t usually get much closer than that. I have made friends with people in my city and I think it’s fun (and so typical of this city’s character) to see people I know when running errands or being out around town. It’s nice to have a chat in the grocery store or while grabbing a coffee, but there are only a few locals I spend time with. I don’t mind it that way.

I’d describe the local community as somewhat tight knit. When there is an event in the community, it creates a good buzz in local businesses and on social media. On a day when an event takes place, expect a lot of tweets telling you what’s going on and a ton of Instagram stories showing you.

A few of our biggest events:

I’m sure to have missed a few others.

We also have plenty of regular events that happen year round. Events like:

This is a city that prides itself on having many community focused events designed to appeal to all walks of life. Just today, my Mom and I walked over to our city’s Pride Festival. While most of the continent is celebrating Pride month in June, Vancouver holds its annual Pride Parade on the Sunday of BC Day (August) long weekend. Here in New West, we hold our Pride festivities a little later, in this year’s case, they started a week later with events throughout the past week, the main event being the Pride Street Party on Saturday afternoon/evening (tonight.)

The main street through town was closed down to traffic and opened up to three stages of entertainment, tons of vendors, organizations, a handful of food trucks and even a wrestling ring for Royal City Wrestling performances. The street was pretty crowded with people having a great time and it was a really nice atmosphere to be in.

I’m not sure if there were fewer events like these when we were younger or if it’s just something we didn’t do, but Kevin and I will attend anything. We’ve wandered through street fairs in a number of cities while we’ve been traveling – a farmer’s market in Victoria, a night market in Daytona Beach, a sweets festival just last week in Toronto, to name a few. I’ve said it before, I know, but it’s one of my favourite things about us – I am enthusiastic to try anything and Kevin is laid back enough to go along with it.

Tomorrow, my Mom and I are going to take on a community event in her neighbourhood, my hometown. More on that later, but in the meantime, check the listings in your local area and find something to attend. You might just decide that you like it.

Down by the water

We spent the night with my parents tonight. We split them up, but spending the night with them is what we did.

Kevin and my dad we’re heading out to the lacrosse game so I convinced my mom to come out here with him and hang with me while they were out there.

We didn’t really have any plans on the books so we took a spin around the neighbourhood. We stopped in at a few local shops and

The boardwalk where we went for a walk has these great Adirondack chairs and we were able to snag two of them for a while. It was cool by the water so it was a very nice place to hang out and catch up there. It’d be a really nice place to come with a coffee and a book if a loved one isn’t available. And the gardens, though a little weary in this heat, are always something to see.

Eventually we came back to our place and waited for the guys to get back.

With just two days until our flight out of town, we’re finishing up the last few errands and starting to get physically ready to go. (I’ve been mentally ready for weeks!)

For a Tuesday that looked and felt a lot more like a Monday, this was a pretty good one.

The damn haircut

Yesterday I was all I don’t care about hair and there are so many reasons not to go to the salon.

Today I am all I wish I’d done that sooner and I can’t wait to go back.

I wasn’t naming names before I had been to my appointment because even if I had hated it, I wouldn’t have told anyone who it was. But since I actually LOVED IT, now I was to scream it from the rooftops!

My appointment was at Zoom Hair Studio here in New Westminster. When I’d tried to make an appointment this week, Angela was the stylist that was available both times I was and I took that as a sign.

Allow me to insert a little woo here because, well, that’s what I do. I strongly believe that we cross paths people when the timing is right. For whatever reason, Angela and I were meant to meet today and I am so happy that we did.

But I’m going to start from the beginning.

So, yesterday morning everything aligned that I felt motivated and mentally prepared enough to commit to getting my hair cut. I went online to the place I’d been thinking about going and was able to book an appointment for 5pm today. The online booking tool was easy to use, it was quick, told me who was available and when and allowed me to pick my time. I had booked it before the studio was even open, but I got an email and a text indicating that the request was confirmed a few hours later.

I told a few friends that I was going for a haircut today and all of them asked me what I was going to do. I didn’t have a clue. My whole plan ended when I got there. Beyond that, I had no preference.

I arrived at my appointment about ten minutes early this afternoon. There weren’t a lot of people in the salon at the time, but I was greeted by two of them almost immediately. One was another stylist, the other got me check in right away and let me know Angela would be with me in a few minutes. She also said walked me to the back where I could change out my cardigan for a robe. When she first said it, I though, “huh?” but once I saw the robes, they made perfect sense. They were black and silky and tied around the waist. Honestly, I would buy and wear one if I could find them in a store. They were comfortable and kind of flattering, too.

I got to look around a little on my way back to the front and I loved the feel of the place. It was really bright and airy with lots to look at. There were photos on the walls – all the way up to the very high ceilings, nice product displays and

Angela was running a few minutes behind because she was working on a complex colour that I got the spy on while I waited. It wasn’t long, but she still apologized and thanked me for my patience several times throughout the appointment. She introduced herself and shook my hand. Then she asked what we were doing. I told her I like my hair short and that I wasn’t super picky about it. I told her she was the one with the scissors so I was giving her complete control. We discussed a plan of action as well as my hair’s tendencies (a strong side part, a flip at the bottom of my neck.) It was something simple, about shoulder length, blah, blah, blah, although she humoured me and made it sound enticing.

Before we even got started, she just straight up hacked off a bunch of my hair. Why not, right? It was going to go anyway.

This is how much hair I left there in the end.

While I laid back and she washed my hair, I started to think about her cut and how much I liked it. She had a classic pixie cut with an undercut on the sides and in the back. When we got back to the chair, I asked, “so, what if we go shorter?” From there a new idea was born. Something similar to her hair, but without (most of) the shaving…for now. She alluded several times that we’ll be working up to that and a shorter length in the future. I liked it.

From here on, it was a pretty standard affair. She started in the back and then worked her way along the sides and around to the front. She took such great care and precision with every sweep of her scissors and I felt lighter and happier as a true and proper cut started to take shape.

As a person, Angela is sweet, articulate, looks you in the eye when she speaks to you and is a smart cookie. As a stylist, she is meticulous and visionary.

She spent a lot of time and attention on cleaning up the edges and adding texture to the lines. It was like watching an artist – you can’t tell exactly what they’re looking, but you can tell they’re seeing something!

Here’s my before photo.

And here is my after.

It’s kind of a weird angle, I know, but it’s hard to show off the lines of this cut in a way that does them justice. In the end, and after 75 attempts, I shared the selfie I rushed to send off before I even left the change room.

I feel great about it and I even started thinking about adding some colour. Next time…

Another thing I loved was that Angela used very little product in my hair. She gave it a spray with Kevin Murphy Bedroom Hair texturing hairspray only at the very end. I brought some of that home with me as well as two cute little barrettes since I’ll be able to wear them again now that I don’t have 40 pounds of hair weighing me down.

It feels so good to know I can’t cop out and put my hair in a ponytail anymore.

It feels so good that my hair can’t get caught underneath the strap of my bag anymore.

It feels so good to know I’ve done something to really take care of myself.

Overall, I love my new hair and I love Zoom and I will definitely be going back again!

One of my own

I mentioned the other day that as part of the final renovations, my library will be closing for over a month. I’m sad that I won’t be able to go there, I’m worried about my weekly routine and recapturing it when they open up again and I’m scared of going back to regular borrowing periods. I’m kidding about that last part. (Sort of.)

They’re two months ahead of schedule and that’s pretty impressive. I’m super excited to see the new library and all the work they’ve done in there. It’s going to be a great reveal!

I think this closure is relatively new information for the general public at least. I just noticed the posters at the library on Saturday and since then I’ve found a few posts sharing the information around social media.

I saw this post on Instagram yesterday and someone had commented:

2 months for loans though 👍🏻

Which is *precisely* what I’d been thinking and when I said so, she replied to me:

unpaused a TON of holds for this

Which is *exactly* what I had done.

And now I’m pretty sure we’re going to be best internet and library friends forever.

Again, I’m kidding. (But there are definitely worse possibilities out there.)

So, yes, I’m just over here maximizing my book hoard in preparation for the month of March.

If you’re in or around New West, do the library staff a solid – go for a visit and check out a few books, CDs, DVDs, whatever tickles your fancy. The less that’s in the library, the less they have to move.

It looks like Project: Help NWPL by Borrowing All the Books is back. 😜

12.15.18

I was aware of the deep irony when I republished this post I originally wrote in 2015 a few minutes ago. That’s because, in spite of reading it over a couple of times recently, I completely disregarded the advice I myself was offering.

Tonight is my company Christmas party and I am at home instead of being downtown socializing, celebrating and making merry with my coworkers. I just couldn’t do it this year.

I felt very justified when, a few months ago, when my friend Lesley (who is at the party) commented that I am “in introvert in a extrovert’s job.” It’s true. It took a while (think years) for me to really pinpoint it and it was nice to see someone else make the same observation. There is a very high social contingent to my job and I am almost always surrounded by people, all day long, Monday through Friday.My nature is to be quiet and to be alone so people are equally my deepest professional challenge, but they are also my greatest professional reward.

Sometimes, however, I need to retreat – to my house, to my quiet space, to be by myself or to limit my socializing to really small groups – like Kevin. Or maybe another couple.

Last night, we went out with some friends and we checked out the Holiday Edition of Fridays on Front. I barely made it out the office door in time for the 5pm meet-up that I thought was really reasonable when I’d made it. I was pretty convinced that I was heading back to work after we were done, but thankfully I was able to avoid it. (Though I’m a little apprehensive about what I may be walking into on Monday.)

Fridays on Front was fun. We’d gone a few times throughout the summer, but the space for the winter event was undercover. I actually liked it better than the summer location, but I’m not sure it’d be suitable in the warmer weather. The forecast had indicated rain and strong winds and we avoided all of that. The wind did start picking up before we left, but it wasn’t too disruptive while we were there.

I’ll tell you what, though, it was REALLY nice to connect with these friends and to chat and to laugh for a while. I was pretty distracted when I go there, but the charm and the warmth of the group snapped me out of it.

As for the event, it felt like there were more food and drink opportunities than other Fridays on Front and fewer shopping/display booths. We took a few spins around and mostly settled on totally different meals. I was reminded how much I enjoy Crab Park Chowdery when I opted in on one of their bread bowls full of Smokey Tomato soup. Barb went for a cassava pancake wrap kind of thing from Brazilian Roots Truck and the boys both ended up with the Cajun Chicken Sandwich from Mo-Bacon. We were all pretty happy with our decisions. We finished the meal off with Slavic Rolls (us) and Cannoli King (them). The only other purchases were a couple of rounds of hometown favourite Steel & Oak beers.

It was a nice night out.

I’m good in situations that are intimate and socially quiet. I like to connect with the people I spend my time with. I don’t get much satisfaction out of being in large groups where I only have the opportunity to relate on a superficial level. This is the toughest time of year in my job, I’m staring down a crunch week of twelve-hour days and I just don’t have enough solace to spare any right now.

It’s good to have a friend who just gets you. Thanks for sharing, Cara!

10.30.18

Today was Kevin’s birthday so the major focus of the day was making it a happy one. We don’t do a lot of elaborate birthday celebration, but it is important to me that we get together with family to honour the one who’s marking another trip around the sun.

Kevin and I spent the day together running around and combining errands with leisure. I had a doctor’s appointment and then we hit up a nearby doughnut shop. We had to pick up a cake for tonight so we visited some of our favourite shops in the bakery neighbourhood.

At Kevin’s request, we were meeting my family for dinner at a new restaurant across the street from where we live. It’s been getting great reviews since it opened a while ago (maybe even a year!) and we’ve wanted to try it, but haven’t been able to get the gang all together.

Piva describes itself as rustic modern Italian and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Around the table, we sampled the better part of the menu with the only exception being the mains section of the menu. We tried samplings of dishes from the starters, the salads, the pizza, the pasta and the shared plates. By all accounts it was delicious – and with the exception of a few leftover slices of the kid’s pizza, we finished everything. They even served Kevin up with a surprise birthday dessert!

Caesar, Polenta Fries, For Nonna, Gnocchi


After dinner, we came back to our place and had some drinks, sang happy birthday and ate some cake. Once everyone had left, Kevin declared it a great birthday and I felt much better about its tiny imperfections.

Now onward to Halloween! 🎃

Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to reach out a send a special birthday message Kevin’s way. Every single one is greatly appreciated.

09.15.18

Saturday is an errands kind of day for us. As I’ve covered many times, I’m not really a routine lover. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over at all, let alone on the same day at the same time. In fact, there is only one thing that we do every week at around about the same day and time and it has become sacred: we visit the library.

For years, I’d quit visiting the library. It probably had something to do with me not reading. At the very least, it was a vicious cycle. Even when I’d been a library-goer in the past, I’d still been an avid book buyer as well. Over the last few years, I’ve proudly broken the need to own books at all, really. I’ll occasionally pick up my own copy of an obscure title or a book I will need to reference in the future, but I largely rely on the library to supply my current reads. Sure, sometimes you need to wait for a book you want to read, but wander the aisles and you’re sure to find something that’ll tide you over until your turn.

I’ve really grown to appreciate the place that a library holds in a community. On any given visit, we cross paths with some elderly patrons, children, new Canadians and people from all walks of life. It’s also notable that, more than many private businesses, your local library is probably adapting more quickly to the evolution of people’s needs and to technology. Catalogues often include a variety of borrowing material: actual books, audio books, ebooks, magazines, DVDs, our library even has Chromebooks available!

I’m always surprised at how meaningful the library has become in our lives and I’m so happy we have given it another chance.

Do you use your local library? What do you love or hate about it?

Columbia StrEAT food truck festival fun

Did you know that the largest food truck festival in North America happens here in New Westminster? It’s true! And, at their fourth annual event, we were finally in attendance for the first time yesterday.

55. Columbia StrEAT

We had a pretty amazing day outside of that. We went for a nice hike out in my hometown of Port Moody, we had coffee and yogurt parfaits at one of our favourite cafes and then we visited a friend who showed us all around his very impressive vegetable garden and gave us plenty of goodies to go.

We came home and we thought about not going to the food truck festival. It was really hot and we hadn’t stopped to get cash. The counter arguments were that it was literally down the street from us and, well, I was really hungry. Kevin had some lacrosse commitments to tend to after 7pm, but it was only 4:30 at the time so we made a quick trip up to the ATM and then came right back. We walked down the street and it didn’t take long for us realize we were really glad we did.

The first stop we made was at the one place I’d told Kevin I was really excited to visit – the Maille mustard tent. There, they had samples of all their regular and seasonal mustards as well as stations where you could mix your own mustard. The sampling stations were stocked with pretzels and pickles and it was a lot of fun. I liked the seasonal mango with Thai spices mustard best while Kevin liked the blue cheese version, also seasonal.

48. Columbia StrEAT

We left Maille and headed out on what was basically an intel mission. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t waste our appetite on something we saw early on only to find out that there was something better down the road. There were, after all, ninety (90!) food trucks on site so it wasn’t like our choices were limited.

We strolled from one end to the other surveying options and commenting on anything we found particularly interesting. In the end, we each went for our traditional faves. For Kevin that means grilled cheese and for me, that’s a veggie dog. But that wasn’t all.

53. Columbia StrEAT

50. Columbia StrEAT

While he waited in line for his sandwich at Cheese Street Grill, a familiar sight caught my eye and I couldn’t help but race towards it. Johnny’s Pops are artisan popsicles that we’ve tried several times (okay, probably every time) out at Ladner Market. Our favourite is the blueberry cheesecake popsicle, but since that wasn’t on the menu, Kevin went for Creamy Strawberry Lemonade while I tried the tri-colour Mango Yogurt Strawberry. As always, delicious.

In addition to that, we sampled kombucha from Bucha Brew and the mint and algae flavour was so good, I couldn’t resist buying a growler and a fill of it.

51. Columbia StrEAT

As we meandered through tents hosted by VanCity and Save-On-Foods, we eventually got back to where we started and where I’d spotted Dougie Dog almost as soon as we’d arrived. That was my veggie dog destination and they didn’t disappoint. I opted for the Charlie Mac minus the bacon. It was really good, but I wish I’d chosen the Super Mario instead. It isn’t because mac and cheese on a veggie dog wasn’t delicious, but mostly because it’s a little bland and I tend to eat veggie dogs as a vessel for more flavourful things like hot peppers and raw onions and mustard.

52. Columbia StrEAT

By this time, Kevin was needing to think about heading home and I was wanting to catch the end of the Tragically Hip concert on tv so I basically took my dog to go and we hiked up the hill, but not before one more stop.

We rounded the corner of our street and there was Cannoli King. Now, my experience with cannoli ends with Marie Barone, but given how much her husband, kids and grandkids loved cannolis, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been curious about them for years. So I stopped. Kevin said he didn’t want one, but insisted I take the deal of three for $10 vs the single for $4 so I didn’t really believe him from the start. Cannoli King makes “the original Sicilian cannoli of Vancouver” though I wouldn’t know how to compare it to anything else since this was my first cannoli experience, but they were really good. (And, no, I didn’t eat them all.)

54. Columbia StrEAT

So, we went and were glad we did. Here are a few of the ways I almost talked myself out of going and what I discovered about my excuses after actually doing it.

Ninety food trucks? Come on. I’m only going to be able to eat from one or maybe two of them. We made actual purchases at five of them, but it was still fun to look at all of the trucks themselves, their menus and the food as other people walked away with it.

It’ll be too crowded. It was crowded, for certain, and in some places more than others. It’s held all the way down Columbia Street which is quite a large area so there is lots of space for people to spread out.

The line-ups will be too long. Anybody who knows me knows that there are very few things I feel are worthy of standing in line. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of one at the moment. I don’t stand in line for anything so I thought that when we went, it’d be a frustrating series of lines. In truth, with so many options and, again, so much space, there were hardly any lines. In fact, we only stood in two lines – about three minutes for the grilled cheese and maybe five for the popsicles.

49. Columbia StrEATThis was at the top of the festival and you can see the screen
where the concert was broadcast in the middle

It was a really nice (and brilliant!) touch that the organizing group arranged to have a big screen erected to show tonight’s Tragically Hip farewell show in Kingston. At the top of the festival, you could see and hear all the action from the concert and that drew a the largest crowd of all.

Congratulations to the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association on organizing a great event like this. I’m sure tons of planning goes into it and it seemed to go off without a hitch. It certainly gives residents like us a feeling of pride that our city can play host to something so big and well-attended. In case you’re wondering, here’s a look at what the layout of North America’s largest food truck festival looks like.

i have a little ache in my essence

i was in a rather chatty mood at my appointment with my naturopath yesterday. you should know that i looooooooove my naturopath. as i lay there on the table, needles stuck in toes to knee, wrists and belly, i tossed random comments and questions out to the room. what do you think of eliminating wheat? and i’ve noticed i’ve been really thirsty lately. then, this exchange:

qc: what about the dark circles under my eyes?
super awesome naturopath, looking up from her notemaking: well, carly, are you getting enough sleep?
qc: well, kristen, why don’t you mind your own beeswax?

ask a stupid question, they say… i deserved that. this is, however, also the woman who asks for my buy-in on taking pills with names like “women’s precious” and answers my deneedled questions about a little achy spot in the middle of my back with a giddy declaration of “that’s your essence!”


jing

there are so many reasons i love seeing a naturopath.

  1. she knows me. when we have a conversation, it’s like we’re friends. she remembers what i’ve done and what i’ve been through. i never have to remind her that i don’t consume animal products or about my latest exercise regime. when we talk, she doesn’t have to check my file to know how much sleep i get in an average night, which supplements i am taking or about the frequency of my bowel movements. okay, that’s a little friend excessive, but whatevs. point being: she knows me.
  2. alternative treatments. i don’t buy that there is a pill for everything and i don’t believe in treating symptoms instead of roots. yes, drugs exist because they can be helpful and they can cure disease *however* most of the time consideration should be given to lifestyle over prescription. naturopathy and i gel on this.
  3. time and care. we spend a minimum of sixty minutes together at every visit. sixty. six zero. one hour. every visit.
  4. commitment. healing is a long road, but the right naturopath will travel it with you. i saw my first naturopath for years and we worked through a lengthy list of treatment options: acupuncture, homeopathics, injections, tinctures, supplements and probably some other stuff i am forgetting. and, yes. we were successful. it was a far cry from the “just go on the pill and you’ll probably (always probably) be okay down the road when you go off it” attitude i got from multiple mds and ob/gyns i saw. until i ran into naturopathic medicine, i thought nobody would ever want to help me instead of just shutting me up. sometimes when i’m ready to throw in the towel, all i need is a chat with kristen to remind me of why i was doing all this in the first place.
  5. investment. as i mentioned above, when my body starts making changes or when i report back some progress in our plan, kristen gets just as excited as i do. she expresses this by jumping up and down, squealing with delight and sometimes even hugging me. i generally never have any acute health problems, but i do have things i want to work on and goals to attain. having someone to celebrate the baby steps with is gratifying. outside of her office, nobody really understands how significant even the tiniest of movements can be.
  6. self-awareness. a good portion of every appointment is spent discussing my body. i have learned so much about anatomy, biology, nutrition and healthy habits over the years. you can’t put a price on that.

to follow-up on my jing (aka my achy essence,) it’s all good. as she verified and then confirmed the exact area where i was feeling it, that was one of those moments when kristen got all excited and gushed about what that meant in light of everything we’ve been doing. in short: success!

for those of you who are local and willing to give it a shot, i strongly recommend starting at the boucher institute of naturopathic medicine. their teaching clinic is run year round and provides an opportunity to consult on your health with students supervised by licensed professionals. thought still covered by many medical plans, the cost for visits to the clinic are greatly reduced from what you’d spend if you started by meeting with someone in a private practice. the boucher clinic is where i started and it truly changed my life.