August 25, 2009

Medicate Me When it's Over

Phew!!! What a crazy couple of weeks. First I was in Calgary, then I had to hold down the office for the following week (there are only three of us in the office, and two of them were away). Then this past weekend was the boyfriend's 40th birthday. Now we are packing up our place to move to a new apartment. We have given up the search for a home to buy, but wanted to get out of where we currently live. We are moving to a concrete 10 storey building -- right next door. It has insuite laundy, need I say any more? But we still have to pack everything (and I have over 20 boxes of books!).

So enough of the excuses. I apologize to all my wonderful blog friends for neglecting you and not keeping up-to-date with your posts. I feel so out of the loop and it looks like I won't be coming up for air for at least another two weeks. I promise once we're unpacked and settled (hopefully by September 6th as that's when company's coming for dinner -- Gord, be prepared to eat off moving boxes) I'll get busy reading, commenting and posting.

And please, send calming thoughts.

August 19, 2009

I Need to Talk About...

I haven't written anything lately because I've been reading 'We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. I haven't been able to put it down. I haven't been able to make dinner or clean the apartment. I haven't been able to turn the light off before midnight.

I have just finished it. I'm a depleted husk. I need to go outside and walk in some sunshine.

(This past weekend was my girls' weekend in Calgary. I will get to this once I've caught my breath.)

August 14, 2009

Happy Squirrely Friday

I had planned on posting something deep and profound, but just saw this on CBC news and had to share. Thanks to Melissa Brandts of Minnesota and a camera loving ground squirrel from Banff, the internet is now a buzzing. Enjoy and Happy Friday.

August 11, 2009

You Say Sweet Potato, I Say Yam

I appear to be the hapless victim of my own blog. I caved and bought some yam fries on my walk home. I will let you know if they are worth the big price for the little bag.

It's a Mad World

The boyfriend and I just finished watching Season Two of MadMen (and none too soon as Season Three starts this Sunday night). I love this show. I don't care for a lot of television shows as I find most drivel and banal (just how many "Celebreality" shows do we need?) but MadMen I would PVR if I had a PVR.

When I was little there was a show called Bewitched. It was about this friendly witch named Samantha who was married to the mortal, Darrin Stephens. I was a little girl so I of course adored the whole witchy thing, but what I was equally enraptured with was the whole advertising agency thing. Darrin worked at an ad firm called McMann and Tate and he got paid to come up with jingles and ads to sell things. He had a great job and a great house in a great neighbourhood and was married to a witch to boot. How could I not want to grow up and work in an advertising agency?

My first real job was with a company called Conroy Hallworth Adversiting, owned and run by a very nice man named Eric Conroy. He hired me to be his front-desk receptionist for his boutique firm, deep in the heart of what is now the premier King East shopping district of downtown Toronto. At the time it was a questionable part of town, bordering on the red light district of Jarvis Street (premier shopping district of a different sort). But I was in heaven. I watched men and women brainstorm and create and sell and drink and party. Unfortunately this little agency didn't survive the recession of the 80s and the job didn't lead to the type of life I had envisioned. I guess it was a big stretch from agency reception to the bright lights of Sterling Cooper.

I am still fascinated by the business of writing to sell. I'm currently reading The Copywriter's Handbook by Robert W. Bly and believe it or not, it's a fascinating read. The whole point of advertisements and commercials is to sell a product (I know it seems like I'm stating the obvious but start paying attention to commercials). Quite often the products that are being advertised are things we don't want or need, until we see the ad for them. If the ad is effective we will rush to our nearest supermarket and buy up all the McCain Sweet Potato fries we can fit in our shopping cart.

If it's not effective, well...

I had the television on as background noise while reading when the above commercial came on. I stopped what I was doing, mesmerized by the song. I had never heard it before and its eerie notes really stuck with me. I made it my mission to find out the name of the song and the singer. The next time the commercial came on, the boyfriend was in the room and he casually remarked that the song was a big departure from the way Tears For Fears originally released it -- and that it was from a movie called Donnie Darko (which I also had never heard of. I need to get out more!) I rented the movie, loved it and continue to be haunted by the song. But the point I wanted to make here was that I had no idea what the commercial was for. The song stuck, the product didn't. The ad campaign failed.

I'm sure we can all think of ads that we have laughed at (Gary, I'm thinking of the "Most Interesting Man in the World" spots), or cried over or even just scratched our heads at, but that we can't for the life of us remember what they were selling. Maybe this is a good thing. How many more McCain Sweet Potato fries can we eat anyway?

What was the last thing you bought because of an advertisment or commercial? And what commercial has stuck with you (either because it's so good, or so bad)?

August 10, 2009

Lost in Creativity

A couple of years ago a friend found a horoscope website that was pretty uncanny in its ability to pinpoint exactly what was going on in her life. Every now and then, when I long for a crystal ball, I log on to see what it has to say. This was one of my recent horoscopes...

Libra Weekly Horoscope

Expressing and sharing one's creative originality with others is among the most exciting and satisfying aspects of life. Observe how happy are those who do and how lost or distant are those who do not. This is basically called "giving from the heart". The giving is its own reward and the returns are a bonus. So, what is next in your creative destiny? Ask with sincerity and feeling and you will get answers.

I love how time blurs when I am lost in creating and the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment can stay with me for hours. And unlike the satisfaction that comes after I've prepared a great meal, this doesn't taste better if shared with someone. I savour the fullness alone, and it is sweet.

Everything about this book inspired me, from the cover, to the way the pages were laid out, to Ms. Tharp's words. It's a book I will go back to again and again.

What inspires you and feeds your creativity?

August 6, 2009

When Life Hands you Lemons...

Atomic Lola presented me with the Lemonade Stand Award. This is the perfect summertime award (especially if taken with a splash of vodka). If you prefer your lemonade neat, that's fine too, so without further ado I would like to pass this award on to the following sites that I have become intoxicated with:

White Rabbit
Moon Face
naturally nina
bookish blonde

As in most things in life, there are some rules (but like all rules, these can be broken) :
1) Accept the award; post it on your blog together with the name of the person who’s given it plus his or her blog link
2) Pass the award on (or not, if you’d prefer) to other blogs that you’ve recently discovered
3) Link to your nominees within your post
4) Contact the nominees to let them know they've been chosen for this award.

And don't worry about paying for the lemonade. This one's on the house (sorry, little aside to Hugh Laurie -- I can't help myself).

August 4, 2009

Just Hugh and Me

I am in love with Hugh Laurie (the boyfriend knows all about my obsession, and if he were to admit it, has a wee crush himself). Sigh....

August 3, 2009

Switchback to Heaven

This weekend is a long weekend in British Columbia. It's called Civic Holiday (or BC Day) but it's really just an excuse to have another long weekend during summer months. Other provinces in Canada also celebrate this excuse (with the exception of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon) and don't get me wrong -- we will take any long weekend offered.

The boyfriend and I decided to round up the gang (ok, our friend Brad) and go for a motorbike ride on Sunday. The destination of choice? Mt. Baker in the North Cascades of Washington State. Baker is visible to Vancouverites on a clear day. And it's always spectacular.

image courtesy of Derek K. Miller

We headed east on Hwy 1 (also known as the TransCanada Highway) and took the Sumas exit.

As we approached the border we took our helmets and sunglasses off, shut the bikes down and coasted forward. It was still only 10:30AM but it was already hot. The wait wasn't too long and we were soon on our way. We headed south towards Sumas and then east to Maple Falls. If you look at the map below you can see Maple Falls and the yellow line that continues east. The wiggly yellow line is Highway 542 and it heads all the way into Mt. Baker National Forest.

View Larger Map

Or should I say all the way up Mt. Baker, and end at Artists' Point.

It's the wiggly part that I want to talk about.

The boyfriend and Brad are seasoned motorbike riders. They have been up Mt. Baker before and said it was "a good, fun ride" (and I quote). And it was until we left the town of Glacier and started to head up. At first I was having a great time. The road was windy, the trees provided some shade and the traffic was relatively light.

But then the trees thinned, the air thinned, the sun hotter and the road. Well, see for yourself.

images courtesy of Erik Anderson

I wanted to show what the road looked like so I found the above photos online. I would have taken some of my own but I was too freaked out to think about anything but getting to the top. And then getting down again. Several times I cursed my gang for the recommendation of a good fun ride. I was sure that they would have to leave me there, head back to Vancouver and get a truck to come back and pick me up. The picture below, the boyfriend is actually holding me up.

And this is the view from the top (the boyfriend took this). I was in the line for the outhouse (????)

We hung around the parking lot, drinking in the exhaust fumes from the other bikes and cars, then I swallowed my fear and we headed back down.  The trip back down was actually much easier than going up.  I allowed gravity to pulled me down and around the switchbacks.  The only embarrassing part was when I had to pull over to allow a group of cyclists to pass. (I'm not kidding!) Whatever.

By the time we reached the border we had been on the bikes for almost 10 hours. It was a long, hot day. When Canadian Customs asked if I was bringing anything back I told her no, in fact I had left a couple of pounds behind. She had the decency to laugh and say that I did look rather hot. She was not being complimentary.

We made it home by 6:30PM, and eased our tired bodies off the bikes (butt weary -- literally) and onto the couch. All-in-all it was an adventure and the only way my riding will improve. I have to overcome fear and tackle things that I think are beyond my ability. As it turned out it wasn't beyond my ability. And I had the best sleep last night that I've had in weeks.