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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Cards

My Christmas cards are rather unconventional this year. I felt inspired to pull out my watercolors a few weeks ago and make some animal silhouettes. I can only share these four right now since many of the other cards haven't been received by recipients yet. 

My personal favorite: swallowtail butterfly silhouette

Reindeer silhouette; the only seasonally appropriate card I made. Whoops!

Collie silhouette 

Red fox silouette

I hope all of my readers have been having a wonderful and safe holiday season! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Snowy Surprise

This weekend Vancouver got hit with a delicate layer of snow overnight. Snow is such a rarity here and I'm always excited by it. The winter weather in Vancouver is usually just above freezing, with rain and clouds for months at a time. We've been having colder than usual weather here lately, and I love it because it means more sun and snowy surprises like this one.

I woke up on Saturday to find a lovely little layer of snow on my balcony. It's nothing compared to what we get back home in Ontario, but here it was enough to affect traffic. So I decided against taking a trip to the gym and instead decided to sip some tea and watch the birds frolic around the birdfeeder.

They were so adorable in the snow that I just had to share. The juncos were excited to find a feeder with seeds, and were even jumping around on the balcony above and knocking down snow.

Just look at those little footprints!

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I haven't been posting much these past few months despite having a backlog of things to blog about. To be honest, this semester has been really hard on my mental health. The workload has actually been fairly manageable compared to last year, but I think it's been the growing stress from my project and the sudden onset of rainy weather that's resulted in my current low. 

November has been particularly hard: there was a grant application deadline, a really bad cold, sunny weather for a whole week - but of course during the week I was sick, and one really terrible meeting that I'm still cringing about. Give me another week or two and I'll be able to separate myself from all the insecurities and negativity.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Words

I don't have words to describe how I'm feeling today.

This morning I left my apartment in a rush to get to campus and discovered a few hours later that there had been a shooting in Ottawa. The gunman first mortally wounded a reservist who was on guard at our National War Memorial before attempting an attack on Parliament. The gunman was felled inside the building, but the city was put under lockdown with the possibility of a second shooter on the run. This happened just two days after a pair of soldiers were attacked - and one killed - in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

When I moved to Ottawa as a child I remember feeling fearful that an attack of this nature would occur. Even at 9-years-old I understood that being Canada's capitol city made Ottawa a target. It was unbearable not being home when I heard my old fear was realized. From the other side of the country I called home to make sure that everyone was accounted for, that Pamela had gotten home safely from her morning practice and that everyone was safe. I texted friends support as they were locked down in their offices because they worked in government buildings. I keep jumping between being relieved, grateful, unnerved, angry, and terribly sad. Today we lost an innocent young man who was a year younger than me.

Looking at pictures from today is numbing; these are all places I've been, appreciated and enjoyed. I wish the city the best with adjusting to this violence in the days to come. Stay strong Ottawa.

Rest in peace Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Condolences to his family, who I hope can find the strength and support they need after this tragedy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Garibaldi Lake

For our second hike of the weekend, Devan and I decided on tackling the Garibaldi Lake trail. The trek to the glacial lake was probably the most challenging hike I've done to date, with an elevation gain of over 800 meters and an 18 km round trip. Although there are campsites at the lake, Devan and I decided it would be doable as a day trip.

I found the worst of the hike to be the first 6 kms of switchbacks through the woods. This is where you gain most of the elevation, so the pace is slow and the trail isn't very scenic. Fortunately I found some gray jays to boost my morale, and they had no qualms about flying into my hand to eat an apple.

After pushing through the switchbacks we were rewarded with an amazing lookout where we ate lunch. From this point on the hike got more engaging, with small inclines and declines, streams, and bridges.

The lake was so beautiful it instantly justified the earlier gruel of the switchbacks. It was an extremely photogenic place; the glacial water was as blue as the sky and was very reflective. However, I had seen a lot of photos of Garibaldi Lake on the internet, and I came to romanticize it as a remote and quiet place (like in this gorgeous photo). I'm here to burst that precious bubble. The most surprising thing was just how many people were there, all waiting for a chance to get a perfect photo by the lake.

We continued walking further along the lake and found there were much less people. The views by the lake were spectacular, and we stayed for an hour to rest, eat and drink. The way back was very easy with our light hiking gear since it was mostly downhill. I'd love to hike this trail again, maybe next time camping by the lake and continuing on to other trails the next day. Even as a day trip, this hike is well worth the experience. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Elk Mountain

*The following is an old post published during my knee recovery *

This September, my friend Devan decided to pay me a visit in Vancouver before he left for a 6 month adventure in New Zealand and Southeast Asia. He spent some of his time here exploring the city and updating his scuba credentials, but also wanted to see some nature. We decided the best option would be to rent a car for a weekend of hiking in the mountains. The first day we decided to go into the Fraser Valley to hike Elk Mountain out in Chilliwack, BC.

It was a wet day, making the steep trail more challenging than usual. The rain turned to a foggy mist further up the trail, and I'm happy to say I finally found the camera settings to capture the effect. The lookout is apparently amazing on clear days, but when we got to the top we found ourselves surrounded by clouds. Regardless, I was happy to share my trail mix with some bold gray jays and the eerie, magical atmosphere made for a good rainy day spent outdoors.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Abandoned Ontario Part 4: Newfoundout

Newfoundout was the last destination on our road trip of Ontario ghost towns, and it was the location I anticipated the most. Newfoundout was another colonization attempt by the Canadian government in the 1850s. Thirteen families settled up on the mountain with the promise that they would inherit land if they successfully built homes and cultivated a farm. Unfortunately, the soil proved poor for agriculture, so the area was abandoned before the 1900s.

Presently, the area around Newfoundout is only used for pasture and forestry, but the old pioneer log cabins remain. This was the one location of the day that felt isolated and deserted, like an actual "ghost" town. We didn't see or hear another soul the whole time. The location didn't dissapoint; there was something soothing and beautiful about witnessing the old buildings being reabsorbed by the environment.