Friday, December 12, 2008

Time for a return...

What? Two months have passed?

I know. It's crazy.

That time thing flies when you're... well... doing stuff.

Yesterday I had a very good reminder of that...

I was loading my photography directory into Photoshop Elements. It was kind of shocking when it told me there were over 10000 pictures in the directory. Pretty much every picture that we've taken in the last five years is sitting in this directory.

Yes, that's a little scary. Our entire last five years in photos... Our entire relationship... from day one to today... Is sitting in this directory. Really, if I ever lost this directory, over 10000 pictures would be gone forever.

Well, there are likely 1000 or so of those pictures on Flickr... but still.,

Aside from that one thought though... the whole process transfixed me. As it loaded the pictures into the program, it displayed a thumbnail of each picture. They flashed through at maybe 5 pictures a second.

It was truly a movie of the last five years. The amazing thing about digital pictures being that for every one you show, you take five more that just sit there. More or less the same picture... but not quite as perfect as the rest. In the days of film, you never would have done this... it's a waste. But when it's only hard drive space, it's not a big deal.

The effect of this as they were flashing through was actually quite astounding though. There were entire mini-videos of various points of times. Weddings, parties, special moments, and more than a few cat pictures.

It was really entrancing. It took twenty minutes to load them all up. Over that 20 minutes, my eyes didn't leave the screen once. Didn't leave that little box.

It was one of those moments when I sat back and really realized just how lucky I am. To be alive. To have a wonderful caring wife. To do the things that we do. To have the dreams that we have. The thoughts of those five years flashing before my eyes... and the realization that I'm lucky enough to have a unknown number of them still ahead.

Well... all that and the fact I need to back up my photos. Hehe.

We'll hopefully get back into updating things a little more soon. Just had to stick my toe back in the pond.
Thursday, October 9, 2008

The human condition is to expect the world around us to stay the same.

We think that things we cannot see, people we are not in contact with on a daily basis, places in our memories... all will be there. All will stay the same. The next time we come in contact, all will be as it once was.

It's a disappointing jolt to the system when something reminds you this isn't true.

I've experienced this lesson now in several different ways.

The places that you just always expect will be the same... places that aren't subject to the constant change and demand of the city... Places like Mundheim.

In my head I always expected Mundheim to be the same. The population to be at about 40. The same houses, the same roads, the same mountains. Yet, last time I was there... there were new things. There were tour buses... there were tourists with them. There was new infrastructure.

If it can happen in Mundheim... nowhere is really safe.

Then there are people. We all have loved ones we don't see as often as we'd like. We mean to write, we mean to stay in touch... but life keeps you too busy. It's difficult to find the time... and besides, that person will always be there.

Then one day they're not.

You don't expect it. You get that phone call in the middle of the day that just drops out the pit of your stomach. Makes you think about where you should have placed the importance on with regards to time.

I got one of those calls yesterday. Someone that I just expected would be there, someone who I don't see that often, someone I loved dearly. Someone before their time and far too young. A family friend who I'd known all of my life. Who babysat me when I was fresh.

Somehow I just never considered she wouldn't be there. Now, she's gone.

To say the least... It was a jolt to the system.

This year is the fifteenth anniversary of my aunt's passing. My aunt was 29 when she was taken by leukemia. She was young, she was beautiful, she was vibrant.

She was gone.

She would have been hitting her mid 40's this year. I have a vivid imagination... but I cannot imagine my aunt in her 40's. In my mind she'll always be young and beautiful.

My aunt had two best friends. As I was the first of my generation... and they were all 12 or 13 at the time I was born... I knew them well. I've never known three friends who were as close and stayed close as the three of them. To me, they were big sisters... They were family. They were special.

When my aunt passed... it was a huge blow. To me, to my family, to her best friends. It was unexpected. It was unfair. Things within the family were never the same again.

Yesterday, I heard the news that one of her best friends was gone as well. It was sudden, no warning, nothing to prepare for. Just gone.

When I heard my mother's voice as she was telling me... I knew that someone was gone. But I never would have guessed who. Because even though it's been fifteen years since my aunt passed... This is still too damn young. One would think if there was any sense to this world, after suffering a tragedy like the one that happened in 1993... the closest around that would be immune. They'd be free to live happy extended lives.

Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Which personally I know all too well.

Patty, I will miss you. You were important to me.... and as always, I wish I'd had the chance to say that one more time.

Our limited lifespan is too damn short even when you get to the elder years... When one doesn't make it there... It's a travesty.

It's a reminder. Things will not always be the same. The people we love will not always be there. So we have to have to remember to take the time with what's important.

I was asked recently when the last time I'd cried was... and I really couldn't remember.

Now I can.
Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why Norway? Part One.

So let me explain Norway.

Well... the beginnings of my experience with Norway at any rate... and in essence the beginning of this blog.

When I was young I knew little more than my father's side of the family was from Norway. They moved to Canada in the early 1950's... from beautiful Norway to beautiful... umm... vibrant... umm... flat Saskatchewan.

That was really the end of my knowledge.

I always had a pride in the fact that I was half Norwegian... although I never really had any deep reason behind that pride.

When I didn't have a good reason to the things I was questioned on as a kid... That would be a common answer,

"Why are you doing it like that?", I'd be asked.

"Because that's how they do it in Norway!", my ten year old brain lied.

There was never a good reason, but there was always something that identified with it. Definite pride.

The years passed by... and in my early 20's came a time when I was going to do the big European backpacking trip. I didn't have a clue really where I was going or what I was doing... but somewhere in the back of my head I thought, "I have family in Norway!"

My Grandmother, a woman I love dearly, sent me a bunch of old clippings from envelopes with addresses on them. Also notations that only my Grandmother would add... 'This is the cousin of so and so', 'This is my niece and her husband, they are married.' etc etc. It wasn't until later I found a lot of these were likely 20 years old... but that didn't matter in the end.

She also sent a postcard. A postcard from the early 1970's. A postcard of a place called Mundheim.

I packed all these into my backpack... and we were off.

As I said, we didn't know where we were going. We didn't think to warn anyone in advance... We just went.

It was a good three weeks into our adventures when we crossed on a boat from Newcastle, England to Bergen, Norway.

The second I saw the first signs of the coast I was absolutely entranced. It was beautiful. In certain ways it seemed a lot like British Columbia... but you could tell it was very different.

By the time we sailed under the two bridges leading into Bergen harbour I was in absolute awe. For anyone who has seen that city... sailing into the harbour is the most amazing way to get your first memory. You always remember that view.

The boat pulled up to the dock. Eventually we found our way off...

I'll never forget the second my foot touched the ground. I didn't fully understand why... but I knew the feeling. I was home.

We walked from the port to the tourist information centre. I looked in a phone book... I looked up my last name.

There were 20!

This was a big deal. In Canada there are only 7... and I am related to them all.

We went to a phone booth. I called my Grandfather's brother.

I never really knew my Grandfather. He passed on when I was ten. It wasn't until that very moment I realized I had no idea what to expect.

I phoned my Great Uncle Ledvin. He answered.

I tried to explain who I was.

His response, I will never forget... 'No english!'

It was the one time in my life that I was shocked speechless. I hadn't considered that option. Hadn't even slightly considered that. So I'll admit. Begrudgingly I'll admit... I did the obnoxious tourist thing. He doesn't speak my language... Maybe he will if I say it louder.

I said it louder. Amazingly enough. It worked.

"When you come?", he asked.

I said, "An hour."

It took us three hours... wandering through the most beautiful Norwegian country side. Asking directions when people understood us. Just wandering.

Eventually we found it.

I walked down the driveway. There was an old couple waiting by the doorway.

Again, I tried to explain who I was.

He asked, "Son of? Son of?"

It took a minute for my mind to comprehend. A minute to wrap around that thought.

I said my father's name.

Their eyes lit up. They grabbed onto me and hugged me. They brought us into the house.

It was the one time in my life that my father's name has done anything at all for me. It was also the only time it needed to. I came to find myself in Norway. I came to understand my heritage. Find a pride that I had never known or understood before that point.

But I think this entry is long enough as it is... So lets just say,

To be continued...
Monday, July 28, 2008

Lucky 13

Today is an unusual day for me. An anniversary of sorts.

It doesn't have an official name in my mind. I don't always react very strongly to it or even remember it. But along the lines of my birthday or wedding anniversary, a very important life changing day indeed.

Thirteen years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer.

Some years I get very emotional. Some years I forget the day until it's passed. Some years, like this year, it's just another day...

Thirteen years ago today was a day that changed myself and my life forever.

And really, if it hadn't been for that day, this blog wouldn't exist. Where I am today would be a completely different place... A completely different me.

Luckily, for the most part, I like this me.

It's unusual to be able to look back at a thing like cancer and say 'I'm glad that happened.'

But oddly enough... While maybe not glad... I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Sunday, July 27, 2008

Barack on the Beach

Last night, we went to see Twelfth Night at Vancouver's summer Shakespeare festival "Bard on the Beach." There are two giant tents (and lots of little ones) where they put on 4 shows each summer right on the waterfront. It's one of those quintessential Vancouver things that we'd never actually managed to get to...until last night. It was intended to be my birthday celebration, so we splurged and went for the Bard-B-Q and fireworks package, so we got not only the show, but also a salmon bbq (which totally wasn't bbq'd, but oh well) and great seats for the Celebration of Light. the CoL is another quintessential Vancouver experience - a four-day international fireworks competition. Three invited countries (sometimes including Canada) each put on a 30-minute music-choreographed fireworks show, then the fourth night is the grand finale, featuring pieces from each show. Last night was the US's entry. We were expecting lots of red, white, and blue, stars and stripes, etc., but alas, not so much. I think the (poorly executed) theme was love...

But the funny part came as we were leaving the site, walking out with the huge crowd. We overheard a group of older patrons behind us joking, as we had been, about the lack of red, white, and blue and the lack of an outright Obama endorsement in the soundtrack. Since I obviously missed the day in preschool where they taught us to never talk to strangers, I turned around and said, "My husband thought the finale would spell out 'O-B-A-M-A' across the sky." They laughed, and without missing a beat, one quipped back, "Well, we were expecting him to come out walking across the water!" LOL. I haven't laughed that hard in quite a while.

I think there's something about being in Canada that leaves us with a bit lighter perspective on the whole thing...
Sunday, July 13, 2008


shiny little red orbs that pop into juicy goodness when i bite into them. CRACK! the best kind of summer candy. organic and local. got to enjoy them while they last.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Joys Of Moving In Vancouver

So rather unexpectedly, we've found that we have to move.

This was not a planned thing on our part... We had been fairly certain we'd spend at least the next few years here. We've enjoyed the last year here and if there's any one thing I hate above all else on this planet... It's moving.

Well, ok. Maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration... I mean when you can choose things like big evil corporations, pollution, etc, etc... Maybe moving isn't so high on the list.

On a personal level though, I hate it.

At any rate, the owners of the house we're in suddenly sold it. Vancouver real estate market being as ridiculous as it is, they didn't even mean to sell it and it was gone.

So we were on the hunt.

Let me first reiterate that last comment. The Vancouver real estate market is ridiculous.

We have no intention of buying here. Ever. When a condo in our neighborhood starts in "the low 800's", you know something just isn't quite right.

Plus there's the whole BC to Bergen thing... You know how it is.

The problem with the real estate market being as ridiculous as it is means that the rental market is just as bad. People can't afford to buy anymore... so the whole rental market turns into a head hunt.

It's harder to find a place to live in Vancouver than it is to find a job.

When you think about our huge homeless problem in the city and you realize that even two respectable professionals (as are we) have issues finding a place to live... the people that have no money don't stand a freaking chance.

At any rate... today we found our place.

It was probably the 30th we've looked at in the last two weeks. I've never had to do a search like this. I often say that I choose my home the same way I buy my pants... I walk in, I try them on quick, I pay, I leave. No window shopping. No store to store. No checking the brand.

I like it, I buy it. 'Nuff said.

Truly though, this hunt was different. The places that are available are in two categories... Too expensive or never meant to live in.

Too expensive speaks for itself. There's only so much of my monthly income I should have to put towards lodging.

Never meant to live in... Well... A lot of that comes to houses that were never meant to have basement suites... Places where the ceiling height is only 6'5", if that, because they were meant to be basements... places where stuff was stored as opposed to places where people live.

Then you also have the worst of both worlds... The too expensive, too small, not fit for a jail cell, never mind a place to live. The 500 sq foot apartment.

I don't take up much for space. I live relatively lean... however... even when I was single... 500 sq feet would not have been enough for me.

The one other thing is because of the shortage in affordable housing... everyone and their dog is fighting for the same spaces. Well... except for the fact that there's no pets allowed. So their dog is out. Every place you go to, you get a line of people waiting to see it. Then they ask things they aren't even legally allowed to know... but you don't really have a choice but to answer as otherwise you won't get the place. I've had job interviews less intense.

It comes down to who looks best of course... I have to say we come off as respectable, but I've never been a fan of popularity contests.

So i repeat to myself, we found the place. The stress of the last two weeks is done. We're going back to apartment life... but it felt right from the second we walked in. Gorgeous view of the city... Balcony... Outdoor pool... Looked like a very cool building and hopefully somewhere we'll fit right in.

The best part... we don't have to hunt again anytime soon... and I'm most definitely going to keep myself away from Craigslist.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Like most, I'll freely admit, I hate moving.

Yet it looks like that is what we're about to do again.

Now, the bigger move, the name of this blog... that's not something I'm worried about at this point. It's still a few years out. It's the mini-moves before that get to be too much.

We had planned to stay where we are for a few years... but then of course the circumstance changes. A few things we don't like, a commute that's a little too much, a landlord possibly selling the house...

So we have to take things into our own hands. Control our own fate before it gets chosen for us.

This means we're on the hunt.

The frustrating, annoying, barely hold onto your sanity hunt.

Our two sweet cats (well one of them is sweet anyways) become a major crutch in the epic quest. Every ad, no pets. No this, no that. I grit my teeth and move on.

The prices.

Let me say (and not be the first), Vancouver is insane. There are many reasons I'll always love Vancouver and yet not want to live here long term. Housing prices, definitely one of them. It's a whole other blog in itself.

So I get out my hunting spear, put on my loin cloth, cross my fingers and hope that we just happen to cross into that perfect pad.

Or even not half bad would be alright.
Monday, June 9, 2008

our gardening adventure continues...

IMG_6309, originally uploaded by KingToast.

we finally went down to the garden this weekend to check on our stuff. at last count, we have over 30 kinds of vegetables and herbs going this year, between the two garden plots and the little indoor grow-light setup. full list and more pictures later this week.

also in this photo is my cute little city bike. with the weather finally starting to turn (and turn back, and turn again, and whine, and then turn again) and the car off the road indefinitely, we're using our bikes a lot now. it feels good to get around the city on our own power!

i find this whole salmonella scare with the tomatoes very interesting. we did just go through this with the spinach, right? when will we learn? if all of our tomatoes weren't grown by a very small handful of industrial farms, we wouldn't have this problem. see that tomato plant in the picture? no salmonella. promise.


fine poetry, indeed...

"an ode to jon (and my macbook)" by beth

jon is so awesome
he bought me a macbook pro
it is so pretty

"aren't haikus supposed to reference nature?" by jon

see a butterfly
dance like a funky robot
beth likes her macbook
Friday, May 16, 2008

My Turn

Jon keeps asking if I've posted, and I keep saying no. Not a good way to start a co-blog. Anyway, the May long weekend has started, the weather is beautiful, and so naturally I'm inside blogging. Hmmm... something's wrong with my logic there.

We just got back from a quick bike ride around the neighborhood doing some errands, including a stop at the local hardware store to pick up the last few things we need for our little indoor garden. Yay! Yes, we're building an indoor garden with a 4-foot grow light, because our plots at the community garden aren't big enough, we want quick things like cut-and-come-again lettuce and herbs to be handy right here at the house, and we have NO DIRECT SUN on our property. Lots of beautiful trees, but sadly, no sun. Hence the grow light. Pictures to come soon!

We also stopped to pick up a temporary permit for my car for the weekend. We took her off the road again a couple weeks ago. (She'd been back on for 10 months after 2 years off prior to that when we lived downtown.) We both just got new bikes, and we live half a block from 4 bus lines, so we really couldn't justify the cost (or the emissions) of keeping her on the road any longer. So we cancelled our insurance and joined the car co-op. (Why not just sell? I imported her from the US two and a half years ago, and to import a car tax-free, you can't sell it for three years. We'll see what we think in the fall when my three years are up. Right now we're leaning toward selling.) Tonight we're taking an ORANGE Yaris down to Bellingham for a Girlyman show! I don't know if I'm more excited about seeing Girlyman so close to home (even closer than Seattle!) or driving an orange car!

Ok, enough for now... off to finish our little garden contraption. We had to design it pretty carefully so the cats wouldn't eat all of our yummy plants. Darn vegetarian cats!!
Monday, May 5, 2008


Time flies. Quickly. Events happen in a flash and then are gone. Our world demands things to be fast. Demands that we work our hours per week...

40... 50... 60?

That we take our two or three weeks per year off... as long as that's convenient for the company.
That we move in the established rhythms of the society flashing around us. That we don't really know our neighbours. We don't give a second thought to that person walking down the street. In fact, if you dare to meet eyes with that person in the street, society dictates we look away.

I realized once that this is not how I want to spend my life. I don't want to be completely disconnected from the people and world around me. I don't want to spend my life working however many hours a week making more money for a nameless corporation.

That my life was worth more than that.

So I took different paths. If it was expected of me to go one way, I'd go the other. If the things I believed in were thought of as crazy by my friends, by my family... I'd do them anyways. Staying true to my beliefs.

Which leads us to today. The beginning of this blog. The beginning of a story.

An interesting story I hope.

The interesting parts of this story at the moment are two:

One, this is not the beginning of the story. This story is already in progress. In time I will speak more of the beginnings of this story... but for now we'll join it as a work in progress.

Two, the story itself. This story is about myself and my wife. The two of us, as we learn more about ourselves, about each other... and about our eventual goal.

Our goal of moving from BC to Bergen.

I mean for this to cover more than just that... but that hopefully will be the common thread throughout. Why? How?

Questions for another time.

Today I will leave it at that and welcome you to the fold. I hope you enjoy our ride.