I, By

I work next to the smell of the sea. 

And sometimes I think that I can understand, just a little, the longing sailors feel when separated from the ocean. 

I grew up next to the sea. 

I know the sound of waves, of gulls, of water slapping the side of boats. 

I grew up watching the sea. 

To be inland, I feel a sense of loss. As if a vital part of me is missing. That sense of endlessness has disappeared. 

Transforming a Space


Christine Fichtner Flowers 1

Strawberry planter not used for strawberries.

It’s quite amazing what a bit of green can do for a space. It’s a colour that calms, and yet rejuvenates. I love having plants around the apartment, bringing life to squared, static walls.

We have a small balcony. There is space for a small table and two chairs. It’s enclosed by walls, though there is no roof. It’s grey. Or rather, it was grey.

My fiancé and I love spending time outside. And summers in Vancouver are absolute perfection. There are gorgeous trees outside our apartment that are wonderfully green all spring and summer. But our balcony was rather lacking. We wanted to sit outside, but the space was rather dreary. We decided that our next home project was to transform our balcony into a cozy, warm space.

Christine Fichtner Flower 2

Is it weird that I find the trowel really cute?

We started with plants. Green, and pops of colour. We don’t have space for many, but already the change is notable.

We also bought a cheerful blue outdoor rug, and lights to string above. Lanterns will certainly make an appearance as well.

It’s a work in progress, of course. There is much to be done, and I don’t have a green thumb and am definitely learning a lot about gardening as we go. Any tips and tricks that you may have are well appreciated!

I will be posting updates on the transformation of a plain and grey space to one full of life and light.


Christine Fichtner Vancouver Chinatown

I love the blending of styles within the city. Face the tall, glass buildings, the busy streets. Then turn and breathe in the serenity of the gardens and koi pond.

There are small nuggets to find buried within the city. In the middle of everything, and yet cut off and bubbled in its own unique tranquility.

There’s always some place to go when you need to relax, to get away, even if you cannot leave the city.


The high population density practice of shoulder bumping

In Korea, everything is ‘빨리 빨리’, or ‘quick, quick’. Always moving, always fast, always working. Like any big city, people rush around at all times. It makes things lively, and it makes the city feel alive. Especially when there are so many people.

It also means that as the average walking speed increases, so does the chance of bumping into someone, or knocking shoulders.

As a Canadian, it’s very normal for me to say ‘sorry’ when I bump into someone, or when they bump into me.

Things are a little bit different here. People are still very polite in Seoul. If we are waiting for the subway, or just standing around, people take the time to apologize.

But when we are rushing down the street in opposite directions, that’s a whole other story. And understandably so.

If they don’t say sorry, there’s no point in getting angry. By the time you turn around with a scolding on your lips, they’ve already disappeared halfway down the road, among a crowd of rushing, bobbing heads.

So really, might as well save yourself the trouble, and just keep walking. Chances are they didn’t intentionally hit you, nor did they body-check you across the sidewalk, so there’s no need to release the kracken.

I think of it as reflex training. Quicken your reaction speed and improve your spatial awareness. In case I get into that life-threatening street fight for which everyone must be prepared. Who knows when someone might draw a gun and – oh wait, wrong country.