Monday, July 31, 2006

a year ago

i was packing my bags. i was nervous. i was scared. i felt overwhelmed. i was carrying a bag which felt too heavy for me, for numerous reasons. a year ago i left vancouver to go travel. a year ago i stepped on a new continent for the first time. i landed in japan. i started an incredible journey.

not even half of the stuff i took with me.

waiting in line
at the airport in vancouver, after many tears.

i didn't like japan when i first got there. i was unhappy because i realized on the plane that my budget didn't allow for a trip to japan (!!!). i was concerned that i would have to change my flight and head to china earlier than expected. the airport wasn't impressive and i had to wait for my bag a really long time. the subway/train system was very confusing, regardless of all the instructions i had from the hotel's website. i got lost in the streets. it was late and dark and i was staying in a bad neighbourhood. the streets smelled of urine. my room was super small. and i was scared shitless about leaving everything behind.

but the next day, after a horrible breakfast, i started to love japan. i walked the streets and explored temples and was just amazed. there was a certain feeling in the air that i still can't put my finger on. the people were fantastic. the country was quirky. i saw that things would get better.

and it did. not to say that during my 7.5 months abroad that i didn't run into some rough patches. but it got better. it got fantastic. it was the best thing i've ever done. i saw so many things, met so many wonderful people and learned so much.

when i realized that a year ago i sat on that plane, i got nostalgic. i had a great time and i'm sad that it's over. so many things has happened since then... and while it wasn't that long ago, it feels like it was a thousand years ago.

time flies. hopefully time will fly until i get to do it all over again.

on mt fuji.

Friday, July 28, 2006

what i've been up to

i've been quiet on my blog, but i've kept busy. i have hiked the joffre lakes (stunning glacier lakes with an actual ice cap) and holliburn mountain, i have made numerous visits to granville island (and brought my camera for the first time in 4 years), checked-out the chinatown night market and watched the fireworks. i know that this post contradicts the last one, but hey!

i love this picture: it's the view from the 2nd joffre lake.

view from 2nd lake

to view more pictures from my all my outings, see my flickr site.


i have been so lazy lately. too lazy to write, too lazy to photograph, to lazy to be productive. there are many things i should be doing and it seems that the only thing that gets done is procastination. i really should vacuum, pick up my laundry, fold my clothes, clean the bathroom, do my dishes. usually i'm always on top of it all and had been quite proud of myself for keeping everything so neat. but this week, i just never got around to any of it. and now, it's starting to nag me. i really should get it done. like tonight.

in my last post i said that i wouldn't complain about the heat. it was of good intentions but then it was just so damn hot. i lost the acclimatization i had acquired while in asia. it was hot. and while hiking, i was really suffering. slight dehydration. slight headache. but at least i was prepared. some people on the trail were wrongly dressed and had no water. insanity.

the weather is cooler now though. the clouds are back today. i hope that they're not here to stay. i'd like to take pictures of the fireworks this saturday and would love for the sky to be clear - it makes for better photos with the sunset in the background. i didn't take pictures of the fireworks on wednesday. i wanted to see the fireworks. if i have a camera in my hands, i'm not looking at anything but the little window and only think/try to get a good shot. by not taking my camera, i forced myself to actually watch - and enjoy.

on the upside, i was productive cooking-wise. i made fantastic huckleberry mini pies.

Friday, July 21, 2006

careful what you wish for!

well, i was complaining about the weather. the clouds, the gray, the cold.

the heat is here. holly! i was all sweaty by 9 am. i went outside for my break (and my daily dose of vitamin d) and i was cooking. thank god for air conditioning! it never gets this hot in vancouver normally. this is quite bizarre.

funny how we are never happy in vancouver. but don't take my surprise as a complaint. i will not complain. at least, i'll try not too. i'll enjoy the heat and let it take me back to asia. and for the weekend, i'll try to pick a hike that provide thick foliage coverage.

i just need to plan outfits that will minimize the sweaty armpit look! classy, no?

easy as pie

has to be the stupidest expression out there. it may be easy to eat pie, but making one is another story.

now, i was really close at succeeding at pie making last night. i tried making a rustic blueberry-raspberry pie using a shortbread dough for the crust, but apparently my mind was elsewhere at the time and i was unable to follow simple instructions. i've helped making this crust before so i knew what to expect. and while i was making it, i was really proud of myself! the thing was a beaut' and instead of falling to pieces while covering the fruits is was holding up wonderfully. the pie looked fantastic (aka, like it should look) until i placed it into the oven. where it proceeded to implode onto itself and become a flat, gigantic cookie-like blob. it was so ugly that i did not even want to take a picture of it.

it appears that i may have messed up the butter measurement. the thing came out looking fit for the garbage. i did eat some though, and i have to admit two things. 1) a very buttery shortbread tastes like crap. i don't recommend it. too bad it couldn't work as well as for, say, croissants. 2) my pie filling was *tasty*!!! i added a little fig balsamic to the blueberries and raspberries and it tasted like heaven. too bad it ended up layered on a crappy crust.

better luck next time, i guess. i will make you right one day, i know it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


words cannot express how i feel about the situation in lebanon right now. words cannot express how i feel about my government and the position they have taken with regards to this crisis, nor for their current actions (or lack thereof). i did not vote for you. i'm glad that i did not vote for you. we do not need to act as stupidly as bush does.

please sign the petition to denounce israel's action and the breach of human rights and of the geneva convention.

for more info you can also visit amnesty international and democracy now.

Friday, July 14, 2006

things we are told as a child

a few days ago i learned an unfortunate truth about expressions that we causally say and it left me shaken up - i realized that sometimes, expressions are not as superficial as they may sound.

while i knew that fairytales and other such bedtime stories have deeper meaning to them, i never gave that much attention to expressions that we say. they sound silly and they are meant, mostly, to gently quiet the person we are talking to. i am not referring here to proverbs; simply to what appears to be mindless expressions.

so, here is how a small part of my world came tumbling down.

i have recently started to read david bergen's the time in between, a story about the disappearance of an american soldier after his returned to vietnam years after the war. in one of the passage in the book, charles, the american, asks his chauffeur, thanh, how he survived the war. thanh tells his story and explains that surviving after the war was harder than surviving the war itself. in his opinion, surviving hunger in the reeducation camp he had been placed in was the biggest challenge.

to illustrate this, thanh tells the story of hien, a fellow camp mate.
One night he heard Hien, his neighbour, chewing quietly on something. Hien was weak and small and, during the day, was expected to dig up large roots with a small wooden spade. Thanh tried to help him, but it was difficult. The guards were not sentimental and disliked one prisoner helping another. Thanh touched Hien's back in the dark and whispered, "What are you eating? Be more quiet, or you'll be heard."

Hien stopped chewing, but later in the night, Thanh heard him again. In the morning Thanh noticed that the tip of Hien's finger was missing. Hien had eaten it. That day, Thanh caught a small snake and crushed its head with a shovel. He carried it back to the camp and tried to share it with Hien, but Hien refused. Again, at night, Hien chewed at his hand. Madness settled in like a fog. Thanh did not know who was mad, he or Hien. During the day Hien wrapped his hand in a dirty cloth and during the night he ate. The hand became bruised and swollen. Thanh told Hien to go to the clinic. Hien laughed at him.

as soon as i finished reading this passage i had a flashback to sitting at the kitchen island at my dad's apartment, complaining about being hungry. i was told, as a joke (as many kids are told)
mange ta main
garde l'autre pour demain

and then it hit me. there's nothing funny about that expression*! we say it so harmlessly, without thinking that there are people truly starving out there. i am sure that there has been, at some point in time, a case of at least one person consuming their own limbs out of hunger. and it is terrifying that we could say such things so easily. this joke, with the cruelty, mixed with all of the underlying implications just made me feel terrible and i started to cry.

i will never, ever say that expression again. and i will always feel pain if i ear someone else utter these terrible words. hunger and despair are no laughing matter.

* literal translation: eat your hand, keep the other for tomorrow.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

happiness is

finding an interesting picture in flickr that leads you to
discovering a new blog
that leads you to a flickr site
that leads you to a blog
that leads you to a flickr site
that leads you to a blog
that leads you to a website

all food related. nothing beats the beauty and complication of food photography. i don't care what anyone says. food photography i cannot master in my current disposition (ie, lack of gigantic tripod, expensive slr, lights, photoshop that works, a calibrated screen.... dishes, textures, backgrounds et al to boot.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

rock star rocks

i love rock star. i know that this may sound stupid but it's the best damn music show on tv right now. rock star is full of strong, great rock songs and the boys and girls doing the covers just kick ass. i'd go see any of them live any day because they are *that good*. and after suffered through the likes of canadian/american idol, a show like this proves that there is talent out there if you're willing to step away from bad pop music. there's nothing wrong with energy and tallent after all.

rock star is also full of attitude, wit, good burns (ie, "i was still in diapers when you guys were around") and fun comments. like, after a cover of the stones, one was told that mic jagger "is a showboat, so show me some boat!"

obscure, yet to the point.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

quote du jour

i guess that i might of had a few rough nights or that i'm loosing my feminity but today a customer thanked me after our phone conversation by saying
god bless you sir
i said "thank you".


while reading over someone's shoulder on the skytrain (i love doing that), i read:
her clothing vanished into insignificance
now that's a sign of a good cheesy romance novel.

Monday, July 10, 2006

des vertes et des pas mûres

after spending a good chunk of sunday on commercial drive, i have to admit that 1. i don't get football (aka, soccer) 2. i don't care for football and 3. i don't share in the passion that the rest of the world feels towards football.

perhaps if canada was a great football-playing country we would have been brought up to have some of this (frightening) passion and perhaps i'd better understand it, but i don't. over the years i've watched other countries and their nationals (and expats) get so excited about this sport as if it were the most important part of live and i get mixed emotions. on one hand i feel jealous that these people have this great thing that bring them together, that unites them (in a positive way, unlike quebec nationalism). they get to be nationalist (again, in a good way) and to celebrate hard after a game won. they get dressed up, they yell, they even cry out of sadness or joy. on the other hand, it all feels silly to me. how can someone care so much about a sport?

sunday saw packed bars along the drive, with people spilling out into the street trying to get a glimpse of a tv. i didn't get to see the match - the few tvs that i did see were much to far away for me to actually see anything. i didn't mind not seeing the game: my interest was in the pictures that were to be had at such an event.

i have to admit though that when italy won , i was very happy. i know that i was rooting for france, but standing around all of these italians got me thinking that it would be a lot more fun to see them win. and they did, and they went insane. jumping everywhere, hugging each other, crying of joy and disbelief. it was fun and wonderful to be within that sea of people and blue jerseys. but i felt like an outsider. i got covered in celebratory coke (cheaper than champagne unfortunately), got elbowed out by photographers with big lenses and got to get all sweaty from all these bodies mashed together, chanting "we are number one".

i loved it - it was great to see so much joy and passion.

but i still don't get it.

meilleur chance la prochaine fois, les bleus!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

allez les bleus!

Fireworks !!!
Originally uploaded by Hugo*.

j'ai fait mon choix, je prend pour les bleus.

qui l'eu cru?

à bat les vers!

Friday, July 07, 2006

some like it hot

last week in vancouver was stunning. pure perfection: unlimited blue sky, hot weather. real vancouver summer. yellow grass and drought goodness. vancouver summers make me happy.

but for the past few days the clouds have rolled in and the weather got a lot cooler. no more short sleeves, thank tops and flip flops. at least, not for me. it's like summer has gone away and i want it back! i want to have my legs in the sun and feel the heat when i step outside. i want my beautiful vancouver summer! please come back...

when i said that some like it hot, i meant me. i like it. but most people from vancouver, or even bc, don't like it at all. see, people from around here are never happy. either it rains too much or not enough. and in the summer, it never rains enough. it is true, i have to admit, that vancouver lacks rain in the summer. but to me, it compensates for the 9 months of non-stop rain that we get. but people here focus on the drought, on the water levels in the water reserves and the forest fires - the province is already up in flames as i am writing this. i have no doubt that the cool air and the cloud cover is helping them out but i just want to be selfish and say, "what about me?"

i wanted to be all pretty tomorrow and now i'll have to wear pants and a sweater. way to ruin my summer wardrobe, vancouver!

no entry

on my return from break today i found my cube highly decorated with garlands, balloons and a big happy birthday sign barring me from my desk. too bad this doesn't mean that i get to go home!

the garlands hang over my head when i'm sitting down at my desk, even touching my head at points. it's a bit distracting but i'm enjoying the colours. bright orange is a nice change from the burgundy-beige walls.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

oh no!

when i was last in montreal i noticed that the caban store there had closed its doors. i was quite surprised and disappointed that i could not visit one of my favourite store in what i believe is one of the most beautiful buildings ever (they even won a prize for the architecture / restoration of the old bank). at least, i thought, i still had my caban in vancouver.

but now i've just received an email stating that the store on granville street is closing its doors. what is going on with caban? does nobody else appreciate great design or are we all so strapped for cash that none of us can afford their eames chairs and crystal glassware?

anyhow, i will be hitting the store this week to fill-up on everything i was set on buying, but this time, at a discount price. i invite you to do the same.

caban, i will be sad to see you go.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

happy birthday canada!

i ♥ you!

you are amazing, incredible and beautiful. there is no better country in the world and i couldn't be prouder of being one of yours.

see bellow for an example of my loving you.