Sunday, October 31

Happy Poem (a) Day!

To celebrate November can be tough: in the difficult season of winter, after the glory and celebration that is Halloween (p.s. I was a matador this year) but before any of the glory, statutory holidays or festivities of Christmas pan out... I'm resolved to celebrate the best way I know how - one day at a time.

And (for me at least) what better way than with a Poem! It does not require excess spending nor venturing out into the cold and snow. To top it all off there'll be a whole bunch of us doing it (spanning timezones and boarders on Twitter & Facebook) thanks to PoeticMindset a really cool creative blog-space!

Please consider joining the poem-y fun. Share your Poe-a-Tweets on Twitter with the #poemaday tag or submit them to ...or for a narrower audience feel free to add them as comments as I post up some of my contributions on Tourist Candy all month long.

Monday, October 25

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

...Halloween!! It's my favorite holiday of all! This is saying quite a lot since there is absolutely no associated "day off" and I still love it.

Despite the oxymoronic fact that I am the most sensitive person to being scared, utterly dislike creepy/spooky/haunted things AND have found my affinity for mini chocolate bars waning... I am always up for the celebration, costumes and (of course) the candy!

Apparently this whole "any costume you want" is a big selling feature for me. There is something about the ability to be creative, silly and playful without reservation that deeply appeals to me. In the past my repitoir has included "Victorian Zombie", "Smurfette", "The Little Mermaid", "Japanese Geisha", "Elvis the Tank Engine", "Trapeze Artist" and my least impressive "Softball Player."
This year? Something new that struck me one day last month...but it'll remain a surprise until after Halloween...

There are easily HUNDREDS of costumes that are not creative and must only be donned to disappoint those of use who set out to conquer creative challenges, reach pinnacles of the princessy or the phantasmagorical to exemplify the epitome of eclectic, venture to the vistas of visionary or just bask in our own silliness.

So I salute those of you dressing up this week and would LOVE to hear what costumes you've rocked and totally understand if it's after the 31st because I think the surprise is the best part too!

Saturday, October 23

100 Wonders

There are all kinds of lists of things "you should" do or read or go or eat or listen to or learn about etc, etc, etc. I've always wanted to have a whole list of one hundred accomplished in my life but it only just occurred to me that quite likely I already DO have my own!

So should anyone out there want to live as I have (at least 100 experiences worth) here is my "already accomplished" list:

1) build a stereo cabinet
2) bake yeast bread
3) walk on the Great Wall of China
4) join a floor hockey team
5) learn how to install a toilet
6) make a mosaic table top
7) bike over 60km in one day to surprise parents
8) write a poem a day
9) eat duck's tongue
10) go up the Eiffel Tower to catch a daylight view, sunset and night scape of Paris
11) take a Spanish class for fun
12) get an asymmetrical amount of ear piercings
13) take a solo road trip to visit a grandparent
14) eat Cuban food in Panama City with three strangers from another country
15) read a French (translated to English) novel on a train in central China
16) make 14 varieties of homemade chocolates in one day
17) compare bagels in Montreal
18) eat gelato in Italy seven times in six days
19) learn how to weld
20) develop photographs in a dark room
21) sleep in a cave hostel in Cappadocia, Turkey
22) perform the national anthem at the beginning of an event
23) pitch your softball team into the finals
24) run a 5km race for charity (in a festive costume)
25) learn how to manage a website (at a basic level)
26) read your own poetry in public
27) teach senior citizens how to build and paint a birdhouse
28) go tobogganing in the Canadian prairies
29) crochet multiple afghans
30) donate baking to a political cause
31) write letters to your elected officials over educational, foreign and environmental affairs
32) eat without seeing (all dark restaurant)
33) perform at your high school graduation
34) steal tea from a hotel in London England
35) tour the Lourve, House of Terror and Umbrella Cover & new Acropolis museums
36) volunteer at a hospital, elementary school and an outdoor music festival
37) read 32 books in 365 days
38) be a radio DJ
39) see a performance of The Phantom of the Opera
40) do yoga on Vancouver Island, in a library, at a park and in a theatre under renovations
41) go on a photo safari
42) eat dessert for breakfast in Greece
43) take a kid to see their first play
44) go scuba diving in the Caribbean Ocean without lessons
45) sing in a choir festival in British Columbia
46) go jogging in New York City
47) take a train through the Canadian Rockies
48) honour history and the lives lost in the Holocaust by visiting a concentration camp
49) marvel at the Rhine, Vlalta, Danube and Yangtze rivers
50) drink red wine while gazing into the Trevi Fountain
51) go to Strasbourg (as a friend put it "it's always open")
52) go bridge jumping (but don't say I told you)
53) see the Grand Canyon
54) eat Goulash in Hungary
55) take a self portrait on the border of Europe/Asia, Saskatchewan/Manitoba & the Netherlands/Belgium
56) glimpse a giant gator, buzzard and manatee in Florida
57) get a slurpee or fast food in a prom dress
58) DJ a wedding
59) be interviewed by local news media at a jazz festival in Panama
60) take a painting class then go home and paint without rules, abandon or purpose
61) replace the end of your extension cord
62) go 'speed dating' in a foreign language
63) take a cooking class in another country
64) appreciate the 'public art' in airports (Chicago O'Hare, Houston International, etc)
65) sing karaoke on a Chinese tour bus
66) submit a short story and/or photographs to a contest
67) cross the Charles, Brooklyn and Bosphorus bridges
68) have an indoor picnic in an unseasonal snow storm
69) go on a spontaneous road trip with only the clothes on your back (& your wallet)
70) be amazed at all the action on the Las Vegas strip
71) ride the roller coaster at a town fair in Alberta
72) eat fresh lobster in Maine
73) witness the natural wonder of Old Faithful
74) visit Writing-On-Stone park and climb in the hoodoos
75) watch street performers in Munich, Edmonton and Prague
76) tell folktales of the world to classes of preschool to seventh grade students
77) take an online writing course
78) prepare butter chicken from scratch
79) decorate you cubicle/office/workplace for an obscure holiday
80) be a part of a human pyramid
81) participate in inter-generational bowling
82) make your own cosmetics, jam and shower cleaner
83) host a BBQ for 150 people
84) sew a piece of clothing
85) don't purchase any clothing for 8 months
86) make masquerade masks and go to a masquerade party on New Year's Eve
87) go on a four-block holiday and tour your own neighbourhood
88) help conduct your country's census
89) take a hula hoop lesson
90) learn to prepare the traditional cuisine of your ethnic/cultural/religious background
91) kick a field goal
92) go to a Turkish bath
93) sleep under dinosaur fossils in a museum
94) read in a hammock near the equator
95) host a costume/Halloween party
96) get a tattoo
97) burn a bra (for art's sake of course)
98) paddle in a dragonboat team
99) take percussion lessons
100) plant an urban garden in your flower beds
101) make your own darn list of 100 wonderful things you've done & celebrate your life

Feel free to share some here too!

Tuesday, October 19

Watercolour Cows

Dairy or childhood paint, I didn't know which to choose to help me celebrate my evening's home-based adventure via blog.

I won't digress to my planned attempt (and true, initial intent) of this Tuesday- trying to understand personal ritual, but I had to note it for future reference.

So I found myself distracted from my endeavour with normal pre-dinner hunger, all-too-frequent extended work-hour workings and some cheap watercolour paints. I always used to scoff at this style of painting because I never really grasped the technique.
A few years ago I took my first (and only) watercolour class with my dad and a few hours ago I realized just how much I enjoyed it. After over two hours sitting BESIDE my desk on the floor my right leg had gone numb. I had been swirling the colour-mutating water and pulling paint over the paper and observing the colours tease each other blending and mingling... I realized that I really wanted to keep this marathon of making moving!

But then comes the dairy-revelation: my love of milk steamers! I did a quick non-painting stretch and pulled out the three simple ingredients: milk, vanilla and the-best-mug-ever. (*optional: fancy battery operated milk frothing contraption) It is always a mix of anticipation and impatience as the microwave ticks back from two minutes: the spoon and the frother sit ready and the vanilla waits anxiously.
It whirrs and I wait. It perspires as I pace. Then the beep of bliss and blossoming of the froth. Taking the first sip is a bit like vanilla cloud heaven.

So it seems that the distractions of one night turned into an experiential session in my original intent - thanks to Cows & Watercolours - where instead of thinking about personal rituals I patterned and painted, smelled and sipped them.

Sunday, October 17


Self-proclaiming from the mountains: "I am a Mundane-a-holic!" and so are many others... but only when we get to let our imagination and sense of wonder venture ahead to make all necessary translations.

My top-nine celebrations of the mundane include (in no particular order)

- small-town obsessions with having a sculpture of the "world's largest" something or other (examples in the province of Alberta check this out, but a personal favourite of mine is the Dragonfly in Wabamun)

- people who are excited and creative in their 'should-be-benign' business emails

- an Umbrella Cover Museum on Peaks Island Maine, USA

- optimism in current events (YES! and Ode Magazines)

- chicken noodle soup made from powdered chicken stock & any recipe you know by heart or would never tire of eating

- the Pop Art movement

- good ideas (such as most of TED)

-things I learnt from the book "The Art of Pilgramage" by Phil Cousineau (his wikipedia entry) which made me realized ALL of life is just travel

- and Sharing!! We should really all do more of it (i.e. Shareable Magazine)

Sometimes I forget these are a few of my favourite... well... things - that inspired me to focus on being a life-tourist.

Wednesday, October 13

Words + Worlds = Wor(l)ds

Again more reading excitement, thrills and chills (minus the chills and maybe even the thrills, but I have always wanted to make reference to the "thrills and chills" of something).

I am excited to share more of my favourite books on Flashlight Worthy! If you're looking for something to celebrate Persons Day on October 18** (another Canadian Holiday, but this time observed not statutory) that celebrates Alberta's Famous Five (women who brought about significant legal change for the rights of women in Canada including making the case for women's suffrage).. try this list of great books by women authors who help take the stressful moving, reserving and planning out of travel!

Anyone else with favourite books they want to share? I always love a good suggestion and I love a great suggestion even more!

**on another note... should you be in Alberta on October 18th it's also the day to vote in municipal elections. Check out your town or city for candidates and polling stations. If I have to pull out my soapbox it's gonna be to get people to do their democratic duty - be an informed citizen! (and then read some great books)

Monday, October 11

Holidays in Canada

It never ceases to amaze me the awesome power of the statutory holiday. The thought hadn't occurred to me until a young woman coming to do a University exchange from England asked me on the Greyhound bus we were sharing, "Is it true Canada has a lot of bank holidays?" I laughed when I realized it was, telling her there is one in every month but June* (but that some months have two)! That left her wide-eyed and impressed and me proud that we under the maple leaf flag knew how to pump up our calendars.

(*note: I do realize that depending of the whims of Easter one of April or March is stat-holiday free, but the fact of there being both a Monday AND a Friday balances it out in my mind.)

I can remember in high school with my minimum wage job crossing my fingers in anticipation of the holiday-week's schedule dreaming of the huge cash in with overtime pay. On the other hand, I also remember - more recently and more delightfully - of being able to concoct all kinds of wonderful travel adventures only taking a fraction of the actual allocated holiday-days off. (Who knows what I was saving them for this time!)
Statutor-ically celebrating with jovial jaunts to the province next door, or complicated cheap connecting flights to explore slightly foreign places. Nonetheless, with the proliferation of inherent holidays in my home country I am not only imbued with national pride but I am kicking my feet up FULL of gratitude on this Thanksgiving day-off.

Wednesday, October 6

Houseplant Dance

I think everyone should have a houseplant. If you say you can't take care of them or they always die...that's no excuse. Start with something easy... a hearty fern or a cactus.

Not only are these little plants a bit of spring in December and a low-budget way to commune with nature but they also provide numerous other benefits:

A) they give you practice should you be considering your first pet. Weekly waterings get overwhelming? Fail. No puppy for you!

B) they purify the air...kinda... unless you've got a veritable forest of violets, mini palms and lilies one person will probably produce more C02 than that one leafy purifier can filter... BUT you are going to feel great when you breath deeply near its recently-watered soil!

C) a friendly reminder of just how habitable your home is. Consider... if you don't have good enough tap water quality, regular amounts of sunlight and a tidy counter top somewhere... should ANYTHING really have to live like that?

D) built in audience of unwavering, unconditional solidarity. You'll never eat alone again, never dance in the living room without a crowd and can practices speeches or positive affirmations any time of the night or day.

And in a note of my own personal victory - something for all new plant-owners to look forward to: one day the droopy one will perk up, the stagnant one will double in size and the bland one you never liked will bloom in the most beautiful way...and it'll be all because of your careful attention & very limited effort.
So excuse me while I go do the Houseplant Dance.

Tuesday, October 5

The Peppermint Lady from the Autumn Valley

The Peppermint Lady from the Autumn Valley is dedicated to TB:J

The Peppermint Lady. She moved in contrasts and fed no one's stereotypes. Her youthful black hair wound with spearmint strands was embraced by the antique blue expanse above, both longer than winter and smoother than nut-free peanut butter. The pace of her feet, gracefully casual - a harmonious dissonance to my nympholeptic sneakers with their deliberate unseen finish line.

The Peppermint Lady. Dark jacket hiding her knees like the mystery of the minty treat behind the cellophane. My shoulders bare. Her enigmatic solidarity with the fleeting autumn rainbow entitled her to stroll on the joggers' trail, repercussion free.

The Peppermint Lady: would speak with fresh sweetness if she had to speak at all. Her silence exuding enough delicious toothpaste-perfume to make chewing gum bland with envy. Refreshing. And all the while re-freshing unquenchable energy.

A source limitless and incomprehensible she: The Peppermint Lady.

Monday, October 4


I have just realized how easy it is to create fear...but how equally easy it CAN be to create yourself OUT of fear too. Some may call this an all-to-wordy paraphrase of "fake it 'till you make it" but I think I'm trying to say something a bit different.

Sometimes when you are self-effacing something (i.e. jargon-filled way of describing the "fake-it" scenario) you are merely (or astoundingly) managing to forget the fear or push it into the subconscious. I'm not a psychoanalysis expert but I don't see how self-effacing can be a good long term plan.

An example before I continue, so you are getting ready for a big job interview and feel nervous. You really can't prove your calm self confidence when you are so eye-twitchingly nervous - the two are rather contradictory. Fake-it-'till-you-you-make-it (self-effacing) would have you repeating confident phrases to yourself in the mirror or simply putting it out of your mind until the situation is over. Then you have your stellar un-nervous interview and try not to wonder to where all that negative nervous energy went. If you are truly successful at self-effacing you should never even consciously think about that interview-nervousness again. But that feels rather short term an likely to explode one day...
so I say Create-A-Fear... or rather create your way out of the fear - you invented it in the first place!

I think there are many thing to create that can eliminate fear but it depends on the situation. (*note: I'm not saying you should 'create' your way out of a healthy fear of, say, going swimming in an electrical storm. I only mean non-bodily harming fears...)

Identifying my own fear to be sharing my crazy ideas, I decided to create an ongoing opportunity when I could express some of them: Open mic nights. Then I created a format that felt genuine and fun and armed myself with these crazy idea poems. I have already (in four months) gone from a shaky hand signing up to read to the name being down before I knew I had anything to say.

So where am I going with this you say? Ha, I dunno... but it sure was a wonderful feeling today when I realized I was no longer afraid.