Friday, July 30, 2010

Top Ten Sea Movies

It is full on beach season around here.  If you are looking for inspiration or are landlocked then here is my list of the best movies to watch.  There may be some surprises on this list.  I've left out a few popular ones that you may think should be on here.  If you want to state your case leave them in the comments for everyone to peruse.  But my list goes something like this:

10.  The Abyss 
This one is dated, 1989 no less but I have a few older ones on this list as well.  But it is so interesting and claustrophobic in a cool sort of way.    Aquatic aliens, again complex relationships between the characters...
(This list exhibits a pattern of emotional drama and I wonder if the filmmakers knew of the connections between water and emotions?)
And I must say that the ending is one of my favorite parts.

9.   White Squall
I love Jeff Bridges.  This film is a coming of age story with beautiful scenery and the harsh conditions of the sea life on a sailing vessel.  I like that it is set in a time that is perceived as being more innocent in American culture (the 60's) and it challenges the teenage boys to become men and discover the meaning of teamwork and friendship.

8.  The Blue Lagoon 
The innocence of this story is fascinating to me.  Two children who are stranded on an island paradise and are forced to grow up and learn to survive on their own.  This movie must be what comes to mind for many people when they think of being stranded on an island in the sea.  This one is from 1980 but has that timeless quality I think.

7.  Riding Giants 
This is a documentary film following Laird Hamilton and other famous surfers as they chase big waves all over the world.  Stunning cinematography, and terrifying realities that these men seek out.  Surfing is amazing to watch but scares me at the same time.

6.  The Big Blue
This is a love story and a story of a man who dives in the sea and is more dolphin than is mystical and lovely to watch.  

5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 
Wes Anderson does his quirky magic here.   My favorite character is Angelica Houston's Eleanor and her gorgeous semi-precious stone jewelry.  This movie is funny, and wonderfully filmed with great style.

4. The Piano
I love Jane Campion movies and this one is probably her most famous.  The sea is a character in this film as it surrounds New Zealand where the main characters are sent to and it is pivotal in the climax of the film.  There are some breathtaking scenes where Anna Paquin plays at the beach as well.  This is not a light film, the subject matter is serious and deep.  So only venture here if you are in a more introspective mood.

3.  Swiss Family Robinson 
My oldest selection hailing from 1960 this one is a favorite from my childhood.  I loved watching this as a kid and seeing the amazing tree house that the family built after being shipwrecked.  It is a family friendly film and a nostalgic trip.

2.  Message in a Bottle
This one is sentimental and romantic.  I wouldn't say I'm a fan of the typical Hollywood romance movies but this one pulls at my heartstrings.  It seems that they filmed it with that soft, hazy light that invokes sentimentality.  The story twists and challenges the characters into maturity and acceptance.  It has a small town feel and a simple message.  I'm also a fan of Robin Wright and Kevin Costner in this film.  They have a chemistry that I believe.

1.  Swept from The Sea
This is obscure and I don't know why because I love this film.  Rachel Weisz plays a free spirit in a town of oppressiveness.  She collects treasures from the sea and keeps them in her secret cave.  She is wild, lives to the fullest and loves intensely.  The story is tragic, romantic and mystical.  The end of the 18th century village life is depicted here with realism and the scenery is stunning.

Monday, July 26, 2010

as you're leaving...

Tomorrow one of my best friends in the world leaves on a journey to pursue his passion.  I am so proud of him for taking this huge leap of faith and for taking his life into his hands.  Please follow his journey across Canada to perform songs from his album.  The story that will result is sure to be entertaining.  Blessings on the journey Matt & Dylan.

Song of the Open Road

by Walt Witman

AFOOT and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever
I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)

...The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is
not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of
the road...

an excerpt. full poem can be found here

blackberry bright outdoor Monday

The sun was hot and the blackberries are almost ripe.  Our day was good, then not so much but that seems to be the pattern for the next little while for us.  But at least we'll have some blackberries soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thinking about Kitchens Part 2

The curtain edition.  The jumping off point for my kitchen design fantasies is the fabric that I've chosen for the curtains.  This fabric was purchased for a very special event that happened almost two years ago now. 

Birds have become a very important animal and symbol in my life.  When you live in the city they are the most prevalent wildlife (besides bugs and squirrels).  The nests they build always convey a feeling of coziness and you think of eggs, feathers and the shelter of tree branches.  So with those images in mind I picked this vintage fabric as my jumping off point for my kitchen.  In Part 1 I talked about colours and this fabric has each colour I find inspiring right now.  A deep red, soft blue, some pale green, golden yellow and even a slight pink in the upper bird. 
As for the style I created another Flickr gallery with styles of curtains that appealed to me.  Mostly though I think the photos evoke an energy that I like for different reasons in each kitchen.  I've played around with different ideas for the style.  I love the bistro style:

I've had this style in a previous kitchen.  But it covers up too much window in this case.  The kitchen window looks out from the second floor of our new townhouse and so privacy won't be an issue here.  I want to optimize the light and so I'll keep it simple with two side panels that can be closed if we want a cozy feel but leave the window fully exposed otherwise.  What remains to be seen is if I'll make them the length of the window or let them drape down to the floor.  I'll wait and see how we decide to place shelving or other furniture below the window before I make my final decision on that.  But in that case they would probably be more like this:

Decor dreaming is quite fun.  Now I'm off on our weekend adventures.  Happy weekend to you all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book of the Month: July

In keeping with my all about home theme my book this month is Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping: Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice by Miriam Lukken.  The premise for the book is charming.  Lukken complied the timeless wisdom of many southern women from the 19th century and created her character Mrs. Dunwoody.  She is meant to inspire not make you pull out your hair with inadequacy....and that sort of works for me.  The reason I wanted to read this book is because I am again thinking about my kitchen and how to make it work for me.  I did not study how to run a household in but it is a full time job and one that you rarely get concrete guidance on.  My mom's system worked for her and our family, perhaps she'd say it was not ideal but what system is?

I'm not looking for perfection here, just some tips on how to keep from feeling like I'm going in circles.  When you are cleaning up after a two year old, well, there are inevitably circles.  But I take this job seriously and I don't want to stress out and feel like I am constantly trying to catch up....I'm sure we all feel that way.  Parenting as your full time occupation is crazy in it's dose of wonderful mixed with chaos.  Wow, I'm getting off topic here, the book, the book.

Anyway, this book is sweet, and is full of little tidbits but is not exactly what I was looking for.  So if you are looking for good old fashioned wisdom that still applies to today for the most part I would recommend checking it out.  The first two chapters: The Art of Homekeeping and The Cares of House and Home were helpful.  Miss Sallie Anne's Splendid Directions for Laundry lost me a bit since Miss Sallie Anne is never going to be a reality for Ms. Jen.  The Art of Entertaining was similar.  I liked it but I wasn't looking for an etiquette lesson, so if you like that kind of info then check out this book.  My education continues and I will keep looking for a book that offers practical advice for home organization.  Please leave a comment if you have one to recommend.  I need all the help I can get.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Outdoors with Yellow

Once again that bright colour of summer is catching my eye.   Today we found it in many places on our little outdoor excursion.  It certainly wasn't an epic journey for us, just a simple neighbourhood stroll. 

And to add to the yellow spirit around here I wanted to share this photo from the date that Dave and I went on this weekend.  We saw Broadway's Lion King and it was fantastic.

Happy colour hunting in your neighbourhood!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thinking about Kitchens Part 1

As the big moving day gets closer my mind is off and running with ideas about the room in which I spend most of my waking hours: the kitchen.  I want it to be efficient, visually interesting, tidy (a girl can hope!) and as much as possible I want to enjoy being in there.  The best thing about my current kitchen is the cabinet space.  There is a lot of space.  More than any kitchen I've ever lived in.  But that is where my kitchen and I end our love affair.  The shape, lighting...oh, you name it, doesn't work.

This is the view as you walk in the door.  There is a built in table which is awkward to get around but eating in here with a ceramic tile floor was preferable to the dining room with a baby/toddler and carpeting.

And since I mentioned the floor...oh, how I detest ceramic tile!  Everything shatters when it falls on ceramic.  And since I am a huge klutz I have broken many jars, plates and glasses.  The shape of the kitchen makes more than one person in here at once difficult to maneuver.  (in the interest of full disclosure I left the kitchen as it looks at least three times a

 I remember being excited about this kitchen when I moved in. I suppose I may miss some aspects of it in the future but thinking about a "dream kitchen" is still a work in progress for me.  I don't have my system down yet.  I still have kinks to work out and welcome ideas in several forms, especially photos.

I created a gallery on Flickr for inspiration and also because I'm trying to discern if I have a style of my own.  I noticed some themes happening in the gallery that I hope to incorporate into my new space. 

I love these colours.  That retro red and blue combo is very prevalent in my palette right now.  I can vary the shades of blue from sea foam to turquoise to blue veil.  The red sits between brick, blood and fire engine.  There is a vintage feel to my style, an eclectic mix and match.

And the other decor trend, if I can call it that since I'm not up on them, that I'm loving right now is the mixture of wood tones with painted furniture pieces.  My mother would cringe a bit on that one but painted furniture can really bring the eclectic boho up a notch.  Not to mention that I become more convinced each day that colour is so important for creating personality in your home.  Too much and it's overwhelming but a few hits here and there can make the room.   And my final kitchen decor requirement is open shelving.  I've had several kitchens with mostly open shelving and while it looks cool it gathers tones of dust.  So I wouldn't advocate complete open shelving but definitely some.   

If you couldn't tell before why my kitchen and I aren't the best of friends the Flickr gallery will probably explain it all.  I'm not much for beige.  The colours I'm looking at for the home in general will be blues, grays, reds and some small hints of green.  At least that's what I'm thinking right now.  But of course that may change when we get into the house.   And I'm not thinking walls right now since the co-op has a colour that they paint all the units and we can change if we wish to but I'll really live in the space through at least one year first to make sure that I understand the light in the place.  The wrong light can turn a paint colour into a disaster pretty fast.  Well, I hope that was mildly interesting.  I'm on a bit of a decorating kick these days.   

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ads that Lie

I was reading National Geographic the other day and came across this ad which sent me into a panic.

I am appalled that National Geographic in all its earth friendly motives would print this ad when it is blantantly lying.  The entire ad is false but I'll point out a few points in case the fine print is too hard to see.

Producing more.  Conserving more.  Improving farmer's lives.  That's sustainable agriculture.  And that's what Monsanto seeds are all about.

Ok, shall we break this down?

Producing more. 
Not true.  Monsanto designs their seeds to only produce once.  That means that farmers have to buy seeds every year rather than collect seeds from last years crop to plant to following year.  And studies have shown that the genetically modified seeds that Monsanto creates do not have an increased yield.

Conserving more.
The only thing that Monsanto is conserving is money and seed patents.  They are trying to own nature.  Vandana Shiva talks about what Monsanto and corporations like them are doing to our food in this video.

Improving farmer's lives.
I'm not sure how they have the audacity to write this.  They sue small farmers when they find their seeds mixed in with the farmer's crops.  How do the seeds get there?  The wind.  They then use their big corporate dollars and their fancy lawyers to take these farmer's to the cleaners in court.  They stop at nothing to dominate entire rural areas with their seeds.  Farmers are not benefiting from anything that Monsanto does.

That's sustainable agriculture.
Farming the Monsanto way is mass planting.  It depletes the soil, it requires the use of Round-Up and other toxic chemicals and it makes our food less nutritious.  If everyone farms their way the earth will not sustain us.  Period.

And that's what Monsanto seeds are all about.
For all the reasons listed above I beg to differ.  If I believed in the devil I would name it Monsanto.

This was a rant.  What makes me so angry about this type of propaganda is that our culture makes it easy for us to buy it.  If you went to Monsanto's website you could read in depth lies.  They don't care if the science backs up their claims because they just make up stuff to suit their needs.  Companies like this are killing the earth.  While we listen to their lies, and let them convince us that they are "green" and eat the food that their toxic seeds grow they are literally destroying the ground we cherish.

It is beyond shameful and scares me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Art of the Month: July

Well, here it is the big reveal.  I thought I would get this posted much sooner than July since it was finished in May but alas the weather here was not picnic/beach friendly.  But this blanket has been out for several fun occasions now so I can finally share it.

 This is the beach blanket from Amanda Soule's Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures.  It is made from vintage sheets, all thrifted and a thrifted piece of a poly blend on the back.

Since I've been obsessed with the sea and grey and blue tones this year I chose to use those tones in the blanket so that it would be an extension of the water.

The handy part of it is that it rolls up like a sleeping bag and so it is great to transport around too.  I love this blanket and Heidi Joy loves hers as well.  We haven't picked out our next project to do together but we'll get it chosen soon.  It helps when your first attempt turns out so well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Outdoor Weekend

Since we were outdoors for most of the weekend as well as today I wanted to share some of our adventures.  July is shaping up into a great month so far and I've been dreading avoiding packing for our move which is quickly approaching.

We visited with friends and their new baby and they took us to the "Birthplace of British Columbia" Fort Langley which is a charming little town.  This is their train station museum.  Our weekends aren't complete these days without some sort of train activity.

On Saturday evening we cheered on my brother-in-law Ricky as he ran his first 10K run.  He raised over $300 for the BC Cancer Foundation.  He had a great finish time and we enjoyed cheering for him.  After the run we enjoyed the sun glistening on the water in False Creek.

Sunday evening we enjoyed the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's free concert in Deer Lake Park.  It was relaxing and they played some popular pieces like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and several pieces from West Side Story.  Our favorite though hands down was Darth Vader's theme from The Empire Strikes Back.  Yeah, we're nerds...I know.


Today we spent a blustery time at the park.  The wind was crazy and made what would have been a warm day a bit chilly.  But we played frisbee, enjoyed the teeter totter and played in the spray park's stream.   Tomorrow we plan to visit the outdoors but stick close to home and get started on packing.  If I avoid it any longer I'll seriously regret it later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Birch Tree

A few years ago birch trees started to call to me.  They sent me messages that struck at my soul.  They compelled me to look closer at them, to meditate on who and what they are. 

I did research and found that the birch is a tree of beginnings, a tree of new perspectives and protection.  Birch trees are about everyday work, the tasks that are demanded for survival. 

I took it as an omen of good that there was a birch tree in the garden in front of our home when we moved in.  And the tree is the anchor on which the garden was built.  It touches the front of our home in places and I delight in its changes throughout the seasons.  In winter the raindrops glisten on the branches, in summer the leaves rustle in the wind.  For a long while I collected all the branches it discarded and made several things out of them.

I believe this one is a white birch although I'm no expert in identifying trees (yet).  The shade of a birch is dappled.  The small leaves make wonderful patterns of light.

I'm going to miss this tree.  I feel like its champion since my neighbour complained about it most of the time.

This is the first time that I've felt such a kinship with a particular tree.  I hope she lives long and brings delight to whoever the next family is to live here. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Outdoor Monday

Our weather is finally saying summer!  Today was warm and we spent most of the day outdoors.  This morning we drew on our walkway with sidewalk chalk (thanks Grandma!), we dug in the garden a bit, and I sat in the sun in the backyard while Ky explored.  He followed a robin around, waving at him and watching him eat insects.  We sorted through piles of dead leaves and twigs that he found behind the big boulder, a neighbourhood cat made an appearance and we followed him around a while and we found several insects to inspect in the grass.  We were also graced with a yellow butterfly's presence while we were back there which brought to mind that Ky loves to read this book: Both Sides Now which he calls Butterfly.  It is Joni Mitchell's song of the same name illustrated beautifully, following the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  And when I say read I should really say sing since I sing the song and he has now learned the melody and sings his heart out.  Is there anything more lovely than listening to a child sing?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Poem of the Month: July

Ode to a Womb's End

I began as a seed
an egg, growing inside
a place of moist darkness
a place I imagine to have been
a deep red
streaked with blues

there was a pulse, a warmth, a wetness
inside I was cushioned
sounds muted
connected to her, as still I am
but more

how strange then 
to have that place, the origin,
the first home, turn
on the one who housed it

how strange that once turned
it must leave, be cut away
the source becoming a hindrance
becoming instead a source of pain and torment
its inherent power shadowed by its betrayal

now an empty spot remains
done with it its primary purpose
what will fill it up?

it is a space of freedom
a space of work well done
it is a space only for her

I see a flower unfurling
petals of the palest pink
slowly opening
they are filled with light
and quiver
with the pulse of 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A little at a time

Slowly I'm preparing the transition from this home to our new one.  In a month and a half we will move away from the only home that Ky has ever had.  Part of this change will be to process stages that he has passed through here, although the process will probably be more for me than him.  I don't move very easily.  I have felt ready for this change for months now so I am more optimistic than usual about packing, cleaning and culling but I feel the need to mark occasions that we've had here and leave physical evidence of our family's growth over the last 2 years.

When Ky was six months old I created a naming ritual for him.  In that ritual I made a rosemary wreath tied with a silver bell to hang in his room.  Many moons before his birth I read in a ritual book that I didn't own and I've long forgotten the title to about a rosemary wreath being dedicated to a child at six months of age and hung over or near their bed.  This wreath was supposed to deter naughty fairies from influencing the baby in a negative way.  In my research for creating a fairy garden I found that rosemary repels fairies. 

Since Ky is now two and a half I think he is strong enough in spirit to move beyond the initial sentiment in the wreath.  It represents his babyhood and with each day he becomes more and more a little boy and the baby in him fades into memory.  With that I decided to bury the wreath in the garden here rather than take it with us to our new home.  New energies await us there and it seemed fitting to keep his babyhood here where he was born and where he grew from a newborn to a toddler.

The wreath now rests in the soil near the primroses, hosta and lily of the valley.   Soon it will break down and feed the soil there.  The process of letting go has begun here in the earth....a little at a time.

On a side note Happy Canada Day to all Canadians and Happy Fourth of July to those of you from the U.S.  I hope you all have great long weekends of celebrations.