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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve is usually spent with my father's side of the family. This year we went to my Aunt and Uncle's cottage in Lyon Mountain, New York. They have a beautiful property that faces out towards the lake and the sunset.

Earlier this week an ice storm swept through central and eastern Canada, as well as some of the northeastern states.We braved the icy conditions and went outside to enjoy the sunset on the lake. The view of the afternoon sunset was breathtaking and well worth sliding around on the ice. I couldn't help but feel inspired by my surroundings.

Wishing you all a great holiday season!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Wild Goose Woods in Winter

I was fortunate enough to make a trip out to my favorite place. Doesn't it look beautiful in all the snow? Definitely a bit of a change from how it looks in spring after the thaw.

I spent about an hour or two in the arboretum this past weekend when I was visiting Guelph. As silly and romanticized as it sounds, this is still one of my favorite places to walk, be alone, and think.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Aerial Photographs of Simon Fraser University

I mentioned in a previous blog post that my university was located on top of a mountain. This seemed to interest a couple of you, so I found some gorgeous aerial photographs taken of my campus. For the most part, it's usually foggy on campus since clouds often sweep right through the university. However, some days the clouds lie lower than the mountain top. Those days are the best; as the bus crawls slowly up the mountain it breaks through the rain or haze and into the sunlight.

None of these were taken by me (although I wish I would have an opportunity like that), but you can click on the photos to see more from each photographer.

Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Grad School: First Semester in Retrospect

Hey everyone!

It's been awhile since my last post and I've found it a little difficult to get back to writing. My last day of class was two weeks ago, and since then I've been back home in Ottawa shifting between relaxing and feeling stir-crazy. I do need the break though. I feel a bit numbed from the experience of tackling grad school these past three months, which is likely from the stress of getting settled in a new city and getting used to the heavy workload.

I think the most detrimental thing I experienced as a new grad student was impostor syndrome. I didn't even know the name of it until October, but as I started school in September I slowly became overwhelmed with the feeling that I wasn't as smart or dedicated as other students. There is a lot more interaction with professors at the graduate level, and I started to worry about how I was being perceived. I became overly concerned that I would eventually disappoint my adviser and, as usual, I fell into a bad habit of over-analyzing everything.

It wasn't until I went to a friend's potluck in October that I found out what I was feeling was actually something psychological and common for graduate students. I got to meet several students who were just finishing their master's in applied mathematics. After telling them how overwhelmed I was feeling, they all agreed that it sounded like impostor syndrome and assured me it was common. What a crazy world academia is! Students are stuck wallowing in their feelings of defeat and failure before they really dive into their studies. Hopefully this is something I can overcome in the next semester as my confidence builds.

I'm not sure how I feel about Vancouver yet. All in all, it's just a very big city with a lot of sprawl. I've come to realize that I prefer smaller cities, especially ones where natural areas and hikes are a lot more accessible. I was getting a little impatient and annoyed with Vancouver by the end of my semester, and I'm hopeful that if I start exploring more and expanding my social circle things will get better. It's a bit tantalizing to be in a province full of nature while also being limited to a large, sprawling city of concrete. Maybe in the summer I'll try to rent a car every few weeks and get out of the city and take advantage of British Columbia.

Although I failed to stay on top of blogging this semester, I did do a good job at remaining active. Besides the cold I got when I first moved to BC (which I still blame on the different germ pool) I didn't get sick at all. I also frequented the campus gym and even got back in the squat rack! Saturday mornings are women's hours from 8:30 to 10:00, so I would go almost ever week and use all the heavy weights that are usually hogged by men.

So, that's about it for this long update. The rest of the month I plan to spend with friends and family, and hopefully getting prepared for the coming semester. I have a lot of work to do with organizing files on my computer, so you may be seeing some old photographs that never made it to my blog.

I hope you've all been well! I really have missed having this as my outlet and intend to use it next semester when things start getting hectic again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balcony Covered in Birdseed

Recently I decided to get a new installment for my balcony. I've always wanted a bird feeder for my own place, so when I found this gazebo feeder for only $5 I knew it was fate. I had a lot of concerns when I first adhered it to my balcony using adhesive strips. What if it falls down in front of the driveway? What if the neighbors complain about the birds chirping? What if no birds show up?

I was foolish to worry about the last one. The chickadees and juncos found my feeder in just under 10 minutes. The picture above was taken as the chickadees started checking out the new feeder. I'm proud to say this was my first frame! 

So far, the bird feeder has held up and I've hear no complaints! I think it would be a shame if someone complained about a few birds, especially seeing we have a lot of road traffic nearby that causes a lot more noise. It's funny how something as simple as a bird feeder can really improve my day. I look forward to coming home and sitting on the couch to do some readings while watching the birds out my window.

I even bought a bird identification book specifically for western British Columbia birds. I was quite knowledgeable on bird species back home, so I feel like I need to get up to speed. So far I've identified every species I've seen at my feeder. Some are even birds I see frequently in Ontario, they just have a different coloration. 

Here are some of my favorites from over the past few days:

Female junco (Oregon coloration) and a black-capped chickadee. These were the first two species to show up to my feeder. They're quite entertaining to watch since they don't like sharing the feeder and will chase each other away.

A male spotted towhee. I was excited to see this bird because it's a new species to me and not present in Ontario.

A male spotted towhee, male junco and song sparrow (pacific northwest coloration) all waiting to use the feeder. The song sparrow had me confused for awhile; it looks much more bland back east.

I've saved the best for last, as this is probably the most showy bird I'll see out here: the steller's jay.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vancouver Waterfront

The rain season on the Northwest Pacific has held off, and I feel grateful that I've had plenty of days of sunshine lately. However, we get an eerie mist sometimes instead of rain. It's very damp and thick, and it usually doesn't clear until the late afternoon.

So far I haven't been too bothered by it. My campus is on a mountaintop, so as my bus crawls up the mountain in the morning we usually break through the fog. The past two weeks have been quite sunny and mild on campus, but it's always interesting to go home and realize the city had remained misty all day long.

Recently I went with a friend to take pictures by Vancouver's waterfront and in Gastown. Despite it being late in the afternoon, it was still very hazy and cloudy out by the water. It made for some very interesting pictures around the Canada Place building.

My friend, who's nickname is Chuy, then ventured with me to Gastown. Clark has been telling me to check out Gastown for quite a while, and he kept telling me to see the steam clock and "Captain Gassy". I got a picture by the steam clock for Clark, and I have to admit it was a very lovely area. 

Right as we got there the street lights turned on. I tried to get some pictures, but between the night lighting and the mist, my pictures were all blurry and out of focus. I didn't really mind; Chuy and I were too busy looking for grungier places to take pictures. Gastown was historically an industrial area, and the train yards are located right behind the pretty buildings.

To finish off the evening, we grabbed some pumpkin spiced donuts at Tim Hortons. It's really hard to find Tim Horton's out here, which is a huge difference from Ontario. Octobers during my undergrad were spent eating pumpkin spiced muffins and donuts in excess, so being back at school without a nearby Timmies has made me miss home a bit. It's the silly little things that make me homesick, but that's another blog post entirely.

Definitely a successful photo adventure! I'm sure there will be many more to come since Chuy is also new to Vancouver and willing to find explore new areas of the city with me. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Nature is Love!

You know what I realized just the other day? My blog has been two years old since this October began! Happy birthday Nature is Love!

What's even more amazing is that I've been able to maintain and consistently update my blog for this long. This blog has helped me reflect on and share parts of my life, and I'm really thankful I've had it as an outlet.

I figured it would be appropriate to share my first blog post here. It's an entry about A Sand County Almanac and features pictures that were taken at one of my favorite places:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hall of Fame - The Script (ft. will.i.am)

Hall of Fame by The Script on Grooveshark

My coworker Mariusz was obsessed with this song last year, which was right as I was beginning to apply to Masters programs. When I got nervous or insecure about my applications or what I would end up doing if I didn't get accepted, Mariusz would play me this song. "Amanda, you're King Kong!"

I'm not motivated by fame, but I am driven for excellence and hope to one day make a difference. This song is such a great anthem. It also brings a smile to my face to know that Mariusz was confident of my abilities and intelligence.

Mariusz, I'm not sure if you still read my blog, but if you do, please know I still listen to this song when I start feeling insecure about school.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Do you ever find that sometimes you can get a sense of the love and warmth someone has for you by the way they look at you?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Camping in Buckhorn, Ontario

This is a very belated post, but I was looking through my pictures from this summer and realized I never shared anything from my camping trip. Before moving to BC, one of my last trips was camping with my good friends that I met during my undergrad. We stayed at a quaint, private campsite called Woodland Campsite just outside of Peterborough, Ontario.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quest for Lighting

I'm on a mission to add more lighting to my living room, which doesn't have any ceiling lights. I'm also decorating and working on creating a nice space. It's coming along well, and I've got some little treasures on display.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Miss This Community

I found a video from this year's Guelph Pep Rally. I can't help feeling nostalgic and a slight longing for this strong sense of community. Guelph was something really special to me. I still hope one day to be back in Guelph for the beginning of September so I can watch this event from the other side of the football field.

The Pep Rally is an event at The University of Guelph where first year students all perform a dance with their residence hall. The big performance and attraction is the OV Boogie put on by student orientation volunteers. Residents and community members come out each year to watch. I took part three different years; once as a first year, and twice as an OV.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Walk for Reconciliation

The Walk for Reconciliation this past Sunday was a great success. Although I struggled to get my sleepy and sick self out of bed on Sunday morning, it was such a moving experience to be a part of. Over 70,000 people united on the rainy streets of Vancouver to walk for human rights and understanding.

Despite the pouring rain, we all stood together for several hours in a sea of umbrellas. It was great to be apart of something so big. The video below was uploaded by Reconciliation Canada on Youtube, and shows some of the highlights from the event.


Upon finishing, each person was given a tiny wooden block. These gifts were created by school kids throughout BC who were being taught about the reconciliation process. Each block had a word written on it, with the other side uniquely decorated by a child. The one I received said the word "Courage" on it, and has some adorable pink flowers.

Courage is certainly a great virtue to live by, and I treasure the token for what it represents. I'm glad I participated in this important event and I feel very humbled by it.