Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Doctor Paully, I presume?

On Saturday, Paully, the person I am blessed to call my brother, touched down in Vancouver en route to his home in Newfoundland. Mister Man and I shot out to the airport and scooped him up for a 6 hour visit before he had to jump back on the red-eye for all points East. We had such a lovely time. We strolled through Gastown and popped into the Salt Tasting Room for a glass of vino and a nibble of charcuterie. After a bit of window shopping, we went for a lovely dinner at The Water Street Cafe (delish I might add). And then we popped over to tour my new office.

My brother, the scientist, has just put the finishing touches on a book about the World Ocean Census that's slated for publication in the coming months. I, of course, was chomping at the bit to take his photo for the cover. And while I managed to miss the boat on that one when we saw each other in Cape Cod last summer, I was hell bent not to miss the opportunity again. So I brought along my camera and we did an impromptu photo shoot after dinner. There's a chance that the publisher will reject ALL of these photos, but here are the ones we sent them. What do you think gentle reader? Would you purchase a science book if you saw this person peering out at you from the back cover? And if so, which iteration of himself appeals to you?

I think these photos show him to be the approachable and wonderful person he is. (But for Pete's sake, don't tell him I said that, or it'll go to that smart head of his). And even if they don't pick one of my photos to put on the back cover, I'm still happy I had a chance to take them. Because he IS my brother after all. And I'm pretty darn proud. (But mum's the word on that too, okay?)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Couples Catan

Couples Catan is not to be confused with Couples Counseling (though Couples Catan could potentially have led to a few sessions with a couples counsellor!) Nope. On Friday night, Susan and Diyan (AKA "The Grossmans") invited a whole pile of us over for a Settlers of Catan Round Robin. Initially, we thought we'd set up two tables and kick it old school (a la the bridge tournaments I remember the mums hosting when I was a child). But once we arrived, we decided that it might be more fun to play as couples. There is only one word to describe what transpired after this decision: hilarious.

First of all, there were the beverages, the aptly named:


a beautifully eclectic selection of glasses into which to pour said beverages.

This glass is actually ceramic!

The beverages led to some serious scheming (natch).

Then there were the sweet, sweet moments of tenderness:

followed by the saddest faces in the whole wide world.

You may wonder "why the sadness?" Perhaps it was the diabolical machinations of the usually sweet Lara. I believe this photo says it all:

How we laughed. (Except for the part in the 11th hour where a certain couple STOLE our longest road by rudely blocking us when we were 2 points away from victory..... But I'm over that now.)

(Because Mister Man and I have a plan. Revenge may be sweet, but we won't be when next we meet over the Catan table. Mwahahahahahahaha.....)

*insert echo here*

*slowly fade to black*

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Back on the Bus

Is it cheating if I'm writing this during earth hour, with all of the lights turned off and the computer running on battery power? Mister Man is moving about our apartment with a flashlight in hand, and has lit a couple of candles here in the living room, and you know, it's kind of nice to imagine that we're in a cabin somewhere..... (though Mister Man has just informed me that "if we were in a cabin, there'd be no computers allowed." Because he likes to go "all Luddite" when in the woods.) Me, I like my modern day conveniences. I mean we didn't claw our way to the top of the food chain to deny ourselves the miracles of modern technology did we? I think not, my friend. I think not.

I feel as though I am finally returning to the world of the living after that intense burst of work. It's amazing how much a 12 day stint can take it out of you. I guess it really is true that I'm not 22 anymore, when living on the adrenalin edge of exhaustion was satisfying and invigorating. Now it just whoops me in the butt....

Perhaps it's being tired that makes me want to continually confess to you. I mean, first with the zit and the taped up glasses and the incident with the bloody handshake, and now this. It's a small confession I'm about to make to you, and I hope you don't judge me. (And why all of a sudden do I feel as though we should be sitting in a little booth in the corner of a cavernous church, separated by some doily-like wooden lattice work while the sound organ music and the scent of holy wafers waft about us? And you should be wearing robes and speaking in hushed holy tones. And I should be contrite. And I'm not even Catholic for Pete's sake!)

A couple of events have led me here to this confession. The first is that, with the full on support of Wee Sarah, I have joined Weight Watchers yet again. I tried to do it by my own self, but I am weak, like a picket fence in a strong northeasterly. I couldn't do it. So when I got wind that Wee Sarah had gone back, I thought about the success we'd collectively had the last time we joined. So I signed up.

And to add to the whole motivational thingie, I finally ordered the wedding dress that Mariette and I picked out yea those many moons ago. I had to phone in my measurements. And. Um. Don't judge me, but I MIGHT have taken a couple of inches off the real estate known as my boobs, my waist and my butt. And now the dress is on order. So I must pay the piper (who is about 20 pounds lighter than I am at this moment in time). Yup. So you see, I now have no choice. I must slim.

This is not a bad thing! And we're off to a great start, because in the first week, I was down almost 5 pounds. And if I actually work up the courage here to press "publish post", then the blog verse will know of my secret, and THAT will be one more factor in the motivational pile.

This doesn't mean I'll be giving up baking. I'll just do it less frequently, and I'll do it for events or people.

Because here's the thing: come hell or high water, at the end of the day, that dress is going to fit, by gum! It's gonna fit like a rubber glove.... Stay tuned, gentle reader. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Ode to His Nibs

You see this little guy here? This is Mister Man when he was just Mister Baby. He's pretty irresistible, don't you think?
Well here's something that made him even MORE irresistible. On Sunday morning, I had to get up for the film shoot at 4:15 a.m., after having tossed and turned most of the night (because I don't know about you, but I always have a hard time sleeping the night before a shoot). Mister Man COULD have stayed under the covers where life was toasty and comfy and truly beautiful. But do you know what he did? He got up with me and made me a coffee and a couple of scrambled eggs and toast. And then, when the jeans that I'd laid out to dry the night before were still damp, he took them down to the laundry room and put them in a dryer for 20 minutes. These small and simple gestures are a few of the reasons why I love him to bits.

I know you're thinking "I need one of him.." Well, to tell the truth, the world could use a little more Mister Man. Because he makes this place a better place to be.......

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brain on Toast

Dear World,

This is how my morning went: the alarm went off at 6:00, much to my exhausted chagrin. Heart racing, I stumbled out of bed and reached for my glasses - the same glasses that broke 2 days before yesterday's very intense film shoot. Yes, the same glasses that have been damaged irreparably and that are now held together with a swatch of tape so that I resemble one of the Hanson brothers. Remember them?

And then I slid my taped up glasses on my nose, which is currently the site of the world's largest zit. That zit, which hurts like the dickens, sits immediately underneath the nose pieces of my glasses. This means that my nemesis, the zit, is constantly in contact with my glasses. So during my waking hours in which I need my glasses to move through the world, there is only word that springs to mind: Ouch.

I was a bit stunned this morning as I set out to do returns after yesterday's film shoot for work. (I do have the coolest job in the world. I got to coordinate the shoot and then worked as the A.D. on set). Last week, as we sprinted towards the shoot date, I clocked almost 70 hours. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. I'm just explaining why the morning unfolded the way it did. Clearly I was bleary eyed with exhaustion.

So there I was, picking up the walkie talkies from the Production Manager at 7:30 so that I could return them. Finding the rental place was a bit of a challenge, and for a moment I was pretty certain I was caught in a Rubik's Cube or the Bermuda Triangle. But find it, I did. I wrestled the box out of my trunk and balanced it precariously between my boobs and my knees as I struggled to open the door to the joint. After I handed in the box of walkies, I went upstairs to accounting to make sure that the rental had been put through on the producer's credit card.

In the accounting office, I was greeted by a nicely dressed young man who shook my hand and said his name was Jeremy. And then there was this big ol' pause and he said, "Oh! I think you're bleeding." I looked down, and to my horror, there was blood running down my hand. I guess in all the sleepy eyed juggling of the box, I'd nicked my hand and caused an injury. And THEN to my triple horror, I looked at HIS hand, which now had a little smear of my blood right smack dab on his palm. Moments later, after we'd both washed our hands and he'd gone in search of a band aid, I discovered that the credit card WASN'T on file. And they didn't take debit. And I didn't have enough cash. But the nice man said he'd invoice us, so I went slinking out of there more than a tad embarrassed with my wounded hand dangling from my wrist.

Then it was off to the production rental place to drop off the 200 pound table top make up mirror. As the guy came to give me a hand with it, I slung my purse over my shoulder, and the darned buckle came undone, so the contents of my purse were splattered all over the parking lot. It was then that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was a danger to myself and the world around me. Thank goodness I was able to leave work early today. Because really, it was going to get ugly.

So here I am world, at the end of the day, after a lovely dinner of poached salmon and a really excellent nap and the knowledge that tomorrow is another day......


Sugarlove Girl

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cookies for Catherine II: White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It's been so dang busy lately... I know that postings have been light and I promise that we'll return to regularly scheduled programming early next week. In the meantime, as I wade through a delightfully challenging period of work, work and more work, I'll leave you with another recipe that I made for the fantastic Catherine during her visit to Vancouver.

This recipe has lofty aspirations. It's almost healthy!! (what with the high fibre oats, and the raisins and such)

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups good-quality white chocolate chunks
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup golden raisins
(Martha also had a cup of walnuts in hers, but I chose to leave them behind.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time until combined. Stir in vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Gradually stir into butter mixture until combined. Stir in oats, chocolate, coconut, and raisins. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake cookies until golden
about 12 minutes
. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days. They freeze nicely too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hive3: The Buzz is Back

Every couple of years, a dozen Vancouver theatre companies come together in a large warehouse space to create a fantastic theatrical event called Hive. The site specific pieces are performed in rotation throughout the night around (and outside) the Centre for Digital Media on Great Northern Way. Frequently you have to "vie" for a spot in a performance. Each show lasts for no more than 15 minutes, and has an audience capacity that ranges from 1 to about 24.

You can "collect a key" to see PI Theatre's House/Home. Or "score a red invitation" to see the Tigermilk/Rumble production (and don't be scared when you're asked to wait at the white line and a gloved hand reaches out through the curtains to escort you into a darkened room - I promise you it's worth it.) Or maybe you have to "look for the man" and "ask for a question". Answer the question and then be prepared to take a journey through the eyes of a war photographer compliments of Boca de Lupo. One of my favourite shows requires a record to get you through the door, where you and 11 other people are treated to an intimate and beautiful meditation on the importance of vinyl records as performed by Carmen Aquirre. There is never a dull moment during the 3 hours in which you can linger at the bar or elbow your way to the front of the line to get into another performance.

As I stood there tonight watching audience members mill about and strategize about what they should see next, I got to musing with the event stage manager. We both agreed that Vancouver suddenly felt like a bigger city...... With big smiles on our faces, we sat back and watched folks buzz around us. And then we kept looking for the mysterious woman from the Leaky Heaven Circus who wears a black coat and carries a flashlight... because SHE is the ticket into THAT performance and you have to wait to be "summoned". It's a gift really.

My only regret is that I couldn't take photos of some of the shows, because there is so much photo worthy material there. Oh well. Perhaps I'll be able to sweet talk me and my camera through the door for Hive4??? A gal can dream can't she?

If you haven't seen Hive3, try to score a ticket. The buzz is spot on about this one. It's worth every penny.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Studio with Suzo

This is Suzo. (She's not normally so dramatic - but that's why I like this photo.... She's showing off the curl that liberated itself from the rest of her hair.)

Suzo Hickey is a painter. I have always loved her work.

This is her studio.

On Saturday, I went to take photographs for her portfolio.

It was such a pleasure.
These images are small because I didn't want Blogger to crop them (as is your wont dear blogger).... so you're going to have to imagine them as much larger pieces.

I love these paintings.

I also love my Pentax K20 and my external flash because they made these glimpses into her work and her life in the studio possible.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Out From Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember

Today, after a reluctant run with the running posse (I mean - seriously - who wants to crawl out of bed when it's all "spring ahead"? And no matter WHAT the clock says, you KNOW it's really 5:30 a.m. - not 6:30 a.m. at ALL...) In any event, we did it, even though taskmaster Tamara wasn't there today to crack le whip..... And as the sweat began to dry, I took my camera and tripod to UBC Robson Square to take in the exhibit Out From Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember once again. It just gets better each time I see it.

The exhibit does not attempt an academic approach to the history of disability in Canada. Rather, people were invited to respond to the call with an object that might shed light on some aspect of this complex and difficult history. The result is a completely approachable installation that urges deeper thought at each turn.

To paraphrase a press release, 13 everyday objects pay tribute to the resilience, creativity and cultural contributions to the social history of Canadians with disabilities. As a viewer, you are invited to examine these artifacts and the accompanying text that may challenge the way you've looked at subjects such as a shovel, a hanger, a pile of grey non-descript clothing. It's powerful stuff. How I wish I could take you by the hand and lead you through the exhibit which most definitely illuminates a difficult history. For those of you who don't live in Vancouver or Toronto, I'll try to give you a taste. This is from the piece called "Labouring". Here's a quote from the panel text.

"Labouring. By Ruth Ruth Stackhouse.

Hard-working women. May, a housemaid, Audrey, a seamstress and Mathilda, a dining room and laundry worker. Together, they put in perhaps as many as 285,000 hours of labour.

They were never paid a nickel.

It was called "Moral Therapy". Labour-intensive jobs, long hours, no vacation, no retirement package, no pay. From the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, such was the preferred ‘treatment’ for psychiatric patients at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane.

Why? Domestic duties were believed to make women inmates more "tractable and contented". Little is known about such so-called therapeutic benefits. What we do know is that the unpaid labours of inmates like May, Audrey and Mathilda saved hospital administrators very significant amounts of money.

They fed and clothed and cared for each other. In so doing, we hope that these women found dignity and belonging in a place that offered neither."

The next images and text are from "Dressing"

"By Sandra Phillips.

No pockets, no designer label and no discernible style. Track suits like this were purchased by the gross to clothe residents of institutions across the country. In institutional settings, people, like clothing, are interchangeable.

Today, despite policies of deinstitutionalization both federally and provincially, thousands of Canadians with intellectual disabilities live in conditions as drab and formless as this track suit. Nearly 500 still live in Ontario's three remaining institutions: Southwestern, Huronia and Rideau Regional Centres.

This installation honours every small claim to individuality attempted in institutional confinement – whether by gesture, deed or some expression of personal style."

"Naming" is particularly poignant when you think about the fact that everyday speech still uses some of these words today in an altogether too pejorative way...

"Remembering" presented a painfully sad story about Kristen Anne Inwood, one of the 36 infants who died in the cardiac ward Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children in 1981.

"Cause of death was a deliberate overdose of the powerful heart drug digoxin. Kristen was 18 days old.

In medical slang, Kristen had been designated as “FLK”, an acronym for "funny looking kid". A chromosome exam was ordered while her cardiac abnormalities were assessed.

Kristen's death was one of 36 infant deaths that occurred on the hospital's cardiac ward between June 1980, and March 1981. The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children (the "Grange Inquiry") conducted 191 days of hearings probing the circumstances of these deaths.

The Commission concluded that Kristen had been murdered, but was unable to make any determination of responsibility. "

And then history starts to take a turn for the better as people with disabilities start to blaze trails, and communities of people with disabilities start to organize and rally.

The comment book was bursting with praise. Rightly so.

And while there are still many battles to be fought, things have shifted in Canada over the years in terms of the recognition, acknowledgement and acceptance of people with disabilities. Although it's interesting to note that Catherine Frazee, a major part of the curatorial team had to travel from Toronto to Vancouver via AMTRAK in the United States. Why? Because Canada's Via Rail can't accommodate a person in a wheelchair.

So clearly, we've still got a long way to go......

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cookies for Catherine: Gingersnap Raspberry Sandwiches

You know how I was recently talking bragging about the fact that I've had a lot of privileges of late? Well, one of them has been working with the amazing and brilliant Catherine Frazee. I met Catherine a bunch of years ago when I was working with another amazing and brilliant woman named Bonnie Sherr Klein on a beautiful film called Shameless: the ART of Disability.

In January, Catherine approached me about helping produce a recorded audio description to go with an installation produced by Ryerson University called: Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember. Originally installed in the Royal Ontario Museum, Catherine was puttin' the show on the road and heading west.

And that's how I had the privilege of getting to work with Catherine again, on yet another amazing project. I plan to take more photos of Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember this weekend and I'll do a post specifically about the installation which is now residing at UBC Robson Square. How I look forward to taking those photos and writing that post! But for tonight, I want to share some cookies with you.

Catherine lives in Ontario and Nova Scotia with her partner Patricia. And while we were corresponding, she started to tune into my humble little blog. And she MAY have mentioned on one or two occasions that she was lusting after some baked goods sugarlove style. So when I found out that Catherine and Pat were making the journey westward, I knew that I must spend a weekend in the kitchen baking for them! And here's one of the things I made for Catherine and Pat, with love.

Gingersnap Raspberry Sandwiches (from Martha Stewart)

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg beaten
1 cup of raspberry jam (with seeds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put the rack in the centre of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the vegetable shortening, butter and cup of sugar until it's light and fluffy. (About 2 minutes). In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda.

Add the maple syrup to the creamed butter and beat to combine. Beat in the egg. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add the sifted flour mixture a little bit at a time, until well blended.

Measure about 2 teaspoons of dough and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in sugar and gently press on the parchment paper until it's a round disc. Continue to do this, spacing the balls about 3 inches apart. Bake until golden about 11 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.

When the cookies are cool, spread a big dollop of jam over one side of a cookie and make a sandwich with a second cookie. Serve with a big glass of milk.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's March 8. Happy International Women's Day.

Today is March 8.

If my father was still alive, today would have been his birthday. He died on father's day, 2008. On the day of his memorial service, the flags were flown at half mast at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. This event would have made him incredibly proud, because it signaled a huge achievement in his life. Against so many odds, he went for something that many would have said was impossible. He left a tiny outport in Newfoundland and Labrador to get an education. And later, he taught at the university that led him towards a brighter future. It was indeed a huge achievement.

Today is also International Women's Day. And last night, against all odds, something amazing happened. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman in history to win the Oscar Award for outstanding direction of a film. In all 81 previous years of the Academy awards, no woman had ever won the coveted prize. In fact, only 4 women were even nominated.

Happy International Women's Day. It is indeed a day I won't forget....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Banana Bread with Bourbon

Let's take a moment before the blog-curtain closes on those crazy winter games in spring-like conditions, and allow me to share with you a kick ass recipe for a banana bread that will leave you wanting more. Compliments of Smitten Kitchen, this recipe was dubbed

"Elise’s Friend Heidi’s Friend Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread, As Jacked Up by Deb"

I like to call it

Banana Bread with Bourbon

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
1 scant cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take yer bananas and, in a large bowl, smash 'em and mash 'em. Mix in the butter with a wooden spoon. Stir in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve. A little dollop of butter makes this banana bread outta this world.

We had a slice after grilled cheese sammiches.... when we were watching the men's gold medal curling game. You know the one: Canada vs THE PANTS.