blue_lotus13: (buddha)
One of the things that is weird about returning to LJ after being on Facebook so long is that I keep on looking for a like button so I can like all your posts.
blue_lotus13: (louise)
Again, like I said, there have been few public posts around here lately. I'm writing a lot in a paper journal and have not been blogging as much.

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blue_lotus13: (louise)
I haven't been on the Internet as much, because I've been actually going outside. Also, my sleep counsellor cautioned me against using the Internet at night. So I've been drastically cutting down my Internet time, and it's made a huge difference for me.!

Still, here's what I've been watching.

Season 1 of Pushing Daisies
Season 2 of True Blood


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blue_lotus13: (Default)
Today I received a kick ass wedding invite from my friends Hanson and Danica. The wedding invite looks like a rock show poster, including a note about "doors opening", featuring, etc. It is seriously awesome.

The ceremony will be done in English and Cantonese and will be held at the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical garden in Vancouver. The reception is going to be held inside the main foyer of the Vancouver Public Library. On the 22nd, everyone is invited to a typical Chinese wedding banquet, which will feature the lucky 12 course Chinese meal, minus the sharkfin soup because of ecological concerns.

I can't wait!!!
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I am reading a fantastic book called You couldn't ignore me if you tried . It's about the Brat Pack, 80s movies and John Hughes. I think it's going to inspire a little film fest over here :)
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I attended my friend's wedding this weekend. This was pretty cool because it was the wedding of the first friend I ever picked by myself. I think we met at preschool when we were three. We lived in the same neighbourhood and were good friends throughout childhood. We stayed in touch over the years, even though we have not lived in the same city since we were 17.

I drove home to Saskatoon on Friday to go to the wedding on Saturday. It had rained really hard leading up to the wedding, but Saturday was blessed with good weather. The wedding was on an acreage outside of the city. I got to the site in good time, and met the groom and his parents who were waiting outside the house. I also got to chat with my friend's aunts and numerous relatives.

The ceremony was touching and personal. My friend wore her mom's refurbished wedding dress. The dress had been purchased in the 1970s and had a high neck and long sleeves. They removed the sleeves and neck and made a simple shift/slip dress using the original fabric. After the ceremony, which included personal vows, we drank champagne in the garden and mingled. There were only about 40 of us there.

The rest of us continue to mingle and ate appetizers while the immediate family had photos taken in the front yard. Later on, some of us (myself included) helped with the food preparation, mixing up salads that needed to be taken down to the dining tent set up on the lawn We then clustered inside a tent to eat food that was mainly prepared by the bride and groom! The day before the wedding, the bride and groom had made about 7 salads and a poached salmon with dill sauce. They also served roast beef and vietnamese salad rolls and three kinds of cheesecake, which were catered.

After the dinner, we sat around the bonfire and talked and people played Bocce Ball. It was a really a beautiful wedding, a great chance to visit, and a reminder that weddings don't need to cost an arm and a leg or be a huge, major production to be beautiful and meaningful.
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I have not updated since the Alberta Farm Writers Tour last weekend. On day 2, we went to the University of Calgary veterinary school. I proceeded to get lost on the way there, but still managed to find it, which was pretty damn amazing. I am getting better at driving in Calgary. I've also come to the conclusion that I like Edmonton way better than Calgary. It is smaller, less corporate and artsier. Ah well.

Anyway, we got to talk to some of the staff at the U of C school and learn from one of the students too. One of the most interesting things we got to see were all the models used for learning. They had a stuffed dog who was hooked up to a computer. People could adjust his heart rate etc, so the vets would learn how to fix it. They also had a learning lab in which actors were hired to play owners etc. The vet students had to learn how to tell the owners that their cow was sick/dog was dying etc. These scenarios helped the would-be vets to develop some bedside manners and skills for dealing with owners and hysterical individuals.

We also saw some really cool models such as the model of a cow's backside, which could be attached to a uterus/cow reproductive system, so that the students could learn how to palpate a cow before practicing on a living model. I thought all the models were quite neat, and I've got pics of them to put up on my facebook and flickr, once I get around to it.

Following this, we went to Business Innovations, where we saw a software developed for equine vets. I wasn't too interested in the software, but we got a chance to tour the vet hospital and see a horse in surgery. The horse was completely knocked out on anasthetic.(sp). When they were done the surgery, hooks were used to move the horse off of his back and into a padded room, where he was allowed to wake up. It was really interesting.
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I spent last Thursday and Friday in Calgary at the Alberta Farm Writers Association conference. First off, I have to congratulate myself for my success in driving around Calgary. I still don't know the city that well, and in my mind, it is a big mess of urban sprawl. But I was able to drive around and only got lost once!

On Thursday, I drove myself to the hotel to meet up with the other farm writers. There were about 40 of us on the bus, and we took off the Cattleland, a feed yard with about 25,000 cattle. It had rained and snowed a lot, so the feedlot was kind of gross looking and the cattle were walking around in mud. They do a lot of fairly interesting experiments with private companies at Cattleland and we drove around the feedlot on a bus while the owner talked to us about what he does in his operation. It started to rain a bit during this portion, but we were warm and dry. From there, we went to Fieldstone fruit winery where we sampled 4 fruit wines and learned about fruit wine making. Apparently, you have to use 75% Alberta grown fruit in Alberta fruit wineries. This is to protect the Alberta industry and ensure that people are making Alberta made products. Some of the fruit wines were quite delicious. From there, we went to the Strathmore station, which was an old railway station converted to a restaurant. The food there was pretty great and the ambience was fun.

After that, we went to SemBios Systems, which is a biotech firm that is working on genetically modified organisms. They are making safflower plants that can produce insulin. This was a very scientific part of the tour and some of the info went over my head. We did get to look at lots of safflower cultures and bits of plants. We also toured their sister company, Botaneco, which is completely natural. This company extracts safflower oil for cosmetics and the product can be found in Burt's Bees and Spectrogel.

After this, we went back to the hotel for the banquet and got to listen to a speech and have a question and answer session with Ag Minister Jack Hayden. This was pretty interesting, and he's definitely a better speaker than the previous ag minister. The highlight of our meal was definitely the Vodka Caesar soup, which had a great tomatoey taste and was like a Caesar but in soup form. I would definitely have that again.

The whole day was a great opportunity for me to talk to other ag writers, network, meet new people and learn a whole lot of info. This year I will be going to my first Calgary Stampede, and I now know a lot of people on the ag media organizing committee. Networking with others really made this conference valuable for me. I'll write more about the second day of the conference in a bit.
blue_lotus13: (apple)
Last week, I did a little trip out to Sylvan Star Cheese Sylvan Star Cheese . I'd heard a lot about this cheese, which is made in a small town just outside Red Deer. The man who makes the cheese is an immigrant from the Netherlands. He was a cheesemaker for 30 years before moving to Canada and then opened up shop when he moved with his family. The cheese has been so successful that John and his family were able to create a new cheese making place, complete with a great farm store and an educational room. The milk for the cheese is supplied by the farm's 140 Holsteins. I was not able to visit the farm, for food safety reasons. Generally, if a food manufacturer lets you go inside their plant, they won't let you go on the farm, in order to cut down on the possibility that you could contaminate their food.

The educational room is quite cool. John and his family are making a video about cheese making, so people who go to tours at the farm will be able to learn more about cheese without going into the actual facility. There is also a window in the educational room which will allow people to look directly onto the floor to watch people making cheese.

The cheese is made once or twice a week. Milk is brought up from the farm and then heat treated, not pasteurized. Live cultures are added and then the curds are pressed into molds. Eventually, the mixtures are dipped into brine (salt water) and then allowed to cure. The curing process takes A LONG time. Sylvan Star is known for their Grizzly gouda, which is aged up to a year. Old Grizzly is several years old. The cheeses cure on shelves. They are rotated daily and coated with a breathable wax, which must be applied every day. It's very labour intensive and takes a long time.

Before visiting Sylvan Star, I didn't know that lactose can be destroyed in cheese making. When cheese takes this long to make, the lactose goes away, which means that people who are lactose intolerant can eat this cheese.

Sylvan Star is known for their gouda, but they also make Gruyere and Edam. The Edam is cave aged. Everything must be completely controlled- temperature, humidity, light, etc. It's a very precise process.

Sylvan Star has won numerous awards for their cheese. They make about 20 kinds of cheese including a smoked gouda and various spiced goudas. I got some of the Grizzly and the smoked gouda to take home, and both of them were exquisite.
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I won a spot in a beekeeping workshop this weekend, so I spent most of the weekend hanging out there. The course was taught by a woman I know, and was held three blocks from my house at this yoga studio. I've walked by the space often and it's quite nice on the outside, so it was pretty exciting to get to go inside the space.

The workshop was pretty great. I had a good time interacting and talking with the other participants. One was a chef who just moved here from England and she is interested in making local cheeses. Another was a woman who had done 2 years teaching English in France, and was very interested in local food and sustainable communities. I really enjoyed visiting with everyone. I found that I do know quite a bit about bees, but there's still so much to learn! I've also started thinking more about beekeeping, and how I can become a beekeeper, eventually. It definitely won't be happening this year.

I did also learn that beekeeping is legal in the city of Calgary, but not in Edmonton (yet). I'm thinking that eventually, I might want to get some bees and put them out on a friend's farm. It's not like I don't know people with large areas of land in the province :) I also think I want to go and work at a beekeeper's at some point to get more experience.

Aside from my beekeeping workshop, I taught my teen writers group. We talked about submitting manuscripts and giving readings, and it was a very talky lesson. Our normal space was occupied by a group of people that looked a bit down and out. We moved to a room on the other side, and I told some of the people to send lost teenagers over to my room. One guy told me that it was a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I've never run into one of them before, so it was pretty interesting just to see one.

I also told the teens that I won't be teaching the group next year, partially because I want to concentrate and work on my own fiction. I know that one of the kids was kind of sad about this, because we've really built up a bond and I could see it on her face when I announced it. I'm sad about this too. I hope she stays in touch with me. Some of the other teens will be turning 19, so they won't be able to take the program anyway.

I did try to make it a positive thing, and said that the new instructor might have interest or expertise in areas that I don't do. One of the kids said that it might be exciting to have a new instructor, but it has also been nice to work with me the past 2 years. I was pretty touched by this.

After my busy day, I went to the gym and pushed myself pretty hard. Then I came home, talked on the phone, watched some episodes of "Skins" on DVD, read and vegged. I ended up having one of the best sleeps that I've had in weeks. I've stepped up my scheduled exercise to four days a week, and intend to keep it this way. I definitely want to see if it affects my sleep and my ability to sleep.
blue_lotus13: (Default)
Yesterday I came home after dance class to find a message on my answering machine from my esthetician. I have been going to the same woman for the whole time I've lived in Edmonton. I get my brows and other waxing done at a spa near my house, but I have built up a relationship and a friendship with one woman there. I always requested her specifically and we'd talk a lot about our lives as she did my waxing. Well, she left a message on my phone to tell me that today (Saturday) is her last day at the spa. She is not going to another spa, but is moving on to something other than esthetics. She also said that she wanted to let me know that she was leaving, and to tell me that she has really enjoyed getting to know me over the past couple of years.

I was very touched by her phone call, but I feel sad that I'm not going to see her any more. I know this may seem weird or trivial, but you can build up a very personal relationship with someone who does your hair, or your waxing, or gives you massages or reiki. Fortunately, my mom called right afterward, and I was able to talk to her about my feelings. But I still feel a little sad today. I might buy some flowers and take them to her, since it's her last day today...
blue_lotus13: (book)
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Counts- 7 books were written by Canadians, which is down from past months. Three poetry books (all Canadian).
blue_lotus13: (Default)
It seems that I am going to multiple workshops in May. This weekend was Edmonton media camp. It was the first one ever and was attended by about 180 people. The event was free and was held at the Shaw conference centre downtown. My friend Darrell drove down from Grande Prairie, so I got a chance to chat and hang out with him, which was cool.

The workshop was attended by numerous journalists, PR people, communications people, bloggers and all sorts of new media people. It started off with a panel discussion, then we jumped into the "unconference." I've never been to an "unconference" before, and think that the format could work well for other subjects. What happens is that people pitch their topics and write them down on big sheets of paper. Then these pitches are compiled into groups. So then you pick a topic that is of interest to you and go discuss it. I sat in on sessions about "creating a local food movement website", "how can we convince executives to use social media to market", and one on "change and new media." All interesting stuff. I met a lot of people and thought it was a good opportunity for media people and journalists and PR people to get together and learn from each other. We were encouraged to livetweet the event, so I did. All in all, it was a good event.

I spent most of last week being sick with a bad cold, which sucked. This is my first cold of 2010, and it's still going away. I wasn't able to go to dance class on Friday last week, but I should be able to go again tonight.

I also spent part of last week at the Alberta Agricultural Economists Association conference, which was highly academic.

In other good news, I won a spot at a beekeeping workshop! So I'll be spending part of next weekend learning how to take care of bees.

Brain dump

May. 4th, 2010 10:11 am
blue_lotus13: (Default)
1. We are having a snow storm here! A major, icy snowstorm with freezing rain. It kind of sucks, but at least I don't have to drive anywhere today. I am very happy about that. Also, I'm not going to complain because we desperately need moisture in this part of the province.

2. I am not on the road as much, and that is awesome. In fact, I'm getting caught up on older stories and working from home a lot. This allowed me to do some submissions yesterday and get more of my writing out there. Also, when I did my taxes I found that I drove 13,062 km for work.

3. Yesterday I went to see my accountant. I told him I would meet with him in May so that he could deal with clients that would have to file before the deadline. I am expecting a refund, so I would not have to pay. I was very diligent about keeping my receipts and claiming expenses for my writing business and I think it's going to pay off. I feel somewhat intimidated during financial things so it was very cool to play with my accountant's dog during our meeting yesterday. The dog just loves me. She snuggled up to me while I was waiting, and then sat on my lap and gave me little kisses on my hand while we were talking to my return. Yay for dogs!

4. Got my invitation to my cousin's wedding. I have to figure out if I'm going to fly into Victoria or Vancouver and who will drive me out to White Rock. The wedding is out at an apple orchard! Her future husband's parents' own a U-pick operation and the reception and party is going to feature a barn dance, wiener roast and s'mores. Fun!
blue_lotus13: (Default)
This Saturday, I went to the Edmonton Permaculture convergence, which was hosted at a local community hall. The day was supposed to give participants a taste of permaculture and only cost $35. I've heard of permaculture due to some of my food security courses and wanted to learn more.

Here's a brief definition Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies. It was developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.
The intent is that, by rapidly training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society's reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying Earth's ecosystems.


I am mainly interested in the food security components of the concept. I was expecting about 30 people to be in attendance, but I walked into a room of about 120 people! I ended up sitting at a table with the keynote speaker, who is known as The Urban Farmer . He conducts workshops on how to grow food in your backyard, and also hosts tours to Cuba to learn more about organic agriculture or permaculture in the country. I found out that there is funding available to handle the costs of one of these tours! I also talked to a landscape naturalizer, a dance artist who was creating a memorial garden, and lots of other interesting people. The sheer number of people was simply overwhelming, as I wasn't prepared for it, so I spent a lot of time listening to the other people around me.

There were sessions on backyard chickens, keeping and maintaining bees, food projects and gardening in schools, picking fruit trees for urban backyards and creating eco-sustainable communities. All in all, it was a very informative day.

I should also mention that there was a potluck and everyone had to bring a food item, clearly labelled with ingredients. As a nut allergic person, I can't say how much I appreciated this! I'm going to ask for this at any event that I organize. Anyway, the food was phenomenal. I had some cold soba sesame noodles and spent part of yesterday looking for the recipe so I can duplicate it at home.

Update

Apr. 27th, 2010 10:51 am
blue_lotus13: (Default)
I was in Calgary for five days this past weekend. I managed to do a lot of work, and a little bit of socializing. A and I were good Calgary tourists. I finally made it to the Glenbow museum , which is both an art and history museum. It was pretty darn great, except that we got museum-ed out and didn't see the whole thing.

I personally really liked the Alberta mavericks exhibit, the Asian art exhibit (duh) and the Kent Monkman exhibit. The Monkman was over the top and risque and portrayed with the stereotypes of native people in art and cinema. It also inserted tropes about gay culture into the art.

The next day, A and I went to the Crossroads market to meet up with two of my friends from university and their amazing 3-year-old daughter. She was wonderfully chatty once she warmed up to us, and was generally just a really nice and sweet girl. I haven't seen her since she was about 6 months old, so she was quite a treat.

I'm back in Edmonton for a while, which is nice. Last night I went to a dinner hosted by my publishers. My publishers are putting out 10 books of poetry instead of their usual 4, so they invited all their past Edmonton authors to come out and meet the new poets. Tonight they'll be hosting the actual launch of the new books. Should be fun.

In other news, I'm embarking on what I'm calling "a lifestyle change." I'm going to start eating better and doing some strength training. At least, that's what I'm planning to do. I want to be healthier and more toned. So my diet will include more whole grains, and less processed foods, less wheat, and less cheese and junk. I am looking into the strength training based on what [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com] has told me about the program she has been doing based on a book called "The Female Body breakthrough", which I read yesterday. So it's just all starting slowly so that I can adapt to everything, but I'm kind of excited about it all.

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