The Farm

Every once in a while Ryan and I try to go out to Vancouver Island to help his friends with their farm. It takes a while to get there, what with the ferry and all, but it is always well worth the trip. Visiting good friends always is.

They are currently finishing up renovations on a gorgeous old house. They had to gut it, repair the outside, and replace most of the inside, but it was definitely worth saving. It has been a very long and arduous process, and it’s quite incredible how much it has been transformed. And after two and a half years, they are finally ready to start moving in.

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I swear I wasn’t slacking.

The porch was completely redone, and that’s where we worked.

Inside the house there’s a treat not easily found: a great hall with arcing wooden beams that loom over nine foot windows and an enormous fireplace. It was built back in the 1800s, and then left to rot for many years, but they were able to save and restore it.

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The ceiling of the great hall – now with lights!

It’s also the venue of our upcoming wedding.

I’m incredibly excited. It’s gorgeous – photos cannot do it justice. It’s also very messy right now, since the floor and windows still need to be put in, but it’s getting there.

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The Joiner and the Engineer, hard at work.

For our last visit we helped them build a bathroom vanity. And by ‘we’ I mean Ryan built it, and I, lacking any and all woodworking knowledge, got relegated to sanding duty.

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Newbie duty.

But I got to hang out at a beautiful farm with incredibly wonderful people. So I’m really not complaining.

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I also made a friend.

 

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. 

Less is More

Every year I find myself wanting to do less and less for my birthday. Yesterday I went to work, and then to celebrate, I went to a pub with just a couple friends.

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Mango cake! My favourite!

It was small, intimate, and perfect.

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I do feel incredibly lucky, though, to work at a place where my employers show that they value their employees.

For each employee’s birthday they will buy them a bouquet of flowers.

For me they chose yellow, since I’m a summer baby, and red for my Chinese heritage. It was thoughtful, and generous, and such a nice touch.

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I’m not sure why I did not feel the need for a great bit celebration – I certainly used to enjoy them. And I know I’m not the only one who now prefers smaller parties.

What about you? How do you enjoy celebrating your birthday? Have your celebrations changed over the years?

Welcoming

Welcoming the summer with open arms. The seasonal changes in my city are not dramatic. Ever the odd child, Vancouver has mild winters compared to the rest of Canada, and our summers are much cooler.

IMG_0037But still I get to enjoy the changing seasons. I get to see new life in spring, the warmth of summer, the colours of fall, and the coziness of winter.

And right now I eagerly step into summer. One that I hope will be filled with days at the beach, in the forests, and out in the sun.

What do you love most about summer?

Take Me Away

There’s an old train track that spans much of my neighbourhood. It’s in the middle of being taken apart, which is good because it means much-needed infrastructure is going to replace it.

Christine Fichtner train tracks

On the other hand, there was something nice about the old, overgrown tracks. Walking along the wild, untamed plants and exposed metal. They will be missed.

Wonderfully West Coast

Staying home sick means time to browse through photos. In this case, some photos of me and my fiancé, taken by the incredibly talented Kelly at Lensandlash.com. Her photography is amazing and her posts are inspiring and if you have the time, you should take a peek at her blog!

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So recently she took some photos of me and Ryan, and they turned out beautifully. In a very West Coast fashion, we went to the beach. It was cloudy, but it didn’t matter. The sand, the driftwood logs, the mountains in the background… all of it added up to a huge reason we love where we live.

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There was something perfect about the day. A quintessentially Vancouver spring day with overcast skies and a cool breeze. It was cozy and familiar.

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It also meant I didn’t have to squint with the sun shining in my eyes.

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All in all we had a blast. And can’t thank Kelly enough for all of the photos.

The Green

There’s one thing that I always notice and miss when I’m away from home: the green. I am incredibly lucky to be living in a place that has so much nature everywhere.

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A small haven in the middle of the city

Even just a short walk from my apartment, I find myself in a little bit of heaven. A small retreat that’s there whenever you want it.

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I’ve seen adults gathered around having picnics. I’ve seen kids playing. I’ve seen people watching as their dogs romp around in the grass. And I’ve stood in the welcoming embrace of the green.

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It may not be blooming all year, but even in the winter, the plants wait for their chance to shine.

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And it amazes me how the plants adapt to whatever structures they encounter. How it has grown so strong around the metal building. How it now depends upon it for support, just as the building depends upon the plants for its life.

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I love the life in this city. The one that breathes from the roots all the way to the leaves.

Treasure Hunting

Nature and food. Two treasures that I love.

Christine Fichtner Quarry Rock hike

Isolated

Lucky for me, I live in a city that has a ton of both. How could I not take advantage of it?

As my first hike of the year, it was probably a good thing that I ended up going on a shorter, easier trail. (I may have huff and puffed anyway…)

My friend Miki called me up and we headed out to Deep Cove to hike up to Quarry Rock. It’s a gorgeous hike, and the view up top is spectacular. It’s a fairly popular hike, and by the time we started to head back, the trail was getting a bit more crowded.

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Feeling accomplished post-hike!

There was not a lot of wildlife to be seen this time around, but seeing a raven hanging out around all the hikers at the top was quite something. It must be quite used to humans, since it did not seem nervous at all despite having at least twenty people  and five dogs sitting or standing around.

Christine Fichtner Quarry Rock

A spectacular view.

There’s something wonderful about being surrounded by trees, secluded, away from the reaches of urban life.

It’s rejuvenating for the body and mind. It’s something that never fails to lift my spirits. The life, the energy, everything about it, I believe, brings out the best in us.

Christine Fichtner Honey's donut

How could I not?

Of course, after hiking we had to stop by Honey’s for some incredible donuts. The maple donut was well worth the trek across the city.

The weather has been incredible this year, and I plan to take full advantage of it. This means plenty of hikes and time spent outdoors.

I live in a beautiful city full of opportunities to enjoy nature. What about your city? If I were to visit, where would you send me?

 

Come, Summer

I can’t wait for the warmer days. The sunny skies with cool breezes. Sandals, skirts, and road trips through the mountains.

Summers in Vancouver are absolute perfection. The winters inspire traveling abroad, but the summers keep me home, wandering my homeland.

I eagerly await the inspiration that summer brings.

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Back when I had short hair!

Comfort is very important when I travel. If I’m going to enjoy myself, I have to be comfortable. Luckily, maxi skirts and loose, flowing tops are in. And for the summer, a jean jacket is the perfect addition to keep any chill away.

It’s Worth it.

Christine Fichtner Seawall

Spring means gorgeous weather, which means I can finally spend time outside.

The Seawall is a gorgeous place to go jogging. There are two in Vancouver, one along each side of the inlet. I go to the one closer to my house, of course, and get this amazing view as a reward.

It’s nice to jog in areas full of fellow runners and casual walkers. The clear skies always bring forth smiles. The numerous adorable dogs help, too. One day I’ll have a dog to walk every morning. One day.

So though the whole time I’m jogging it hurts and I’m questioning why I decided to torture myself like this… all I have to do is look out to the ocean and realize just how worth it it is.

My City – Friday Flash Fiction Challenge by OM

   The endless rain of cars upon the streets lends a droning noise to the excited bustle of crowds that pace the streets in furious waves of cell phones and music players. Conversations you did not need to hear and lyrics you shouldn’t even be able to hear.

   Up and down and across the buses loop with black coughs. At even intervals, as trains arrive with squeals as painful as aching joints, and the ground rumbles in a mockery of the earthquake that has been on its way for the last fifty years.

   Around, buildings tower with promising winks and glassy eyes. Mirrors of desire. Coffee warms the hands of most who browse the streets. 

   Trees grow within their cages, trimmed and perfected. Blossoming in spring and illuminated in winter. They line the streets like ornamental filters. People flick their cigarette butts in appreciation.

   An overpriced food truck. The same free newspaper you avoided two blocks back. No, you don’t have any spare change. You jaywalk a one way street. A car stops for you.

   Every once in a while the sun deigns the city worthy of an appearance. But most days the skies mimic the cold cement, and cry for good measure. Ever followers, clothing of black and grey greet the eye like the dense fog that has been around all week.

   Hard paths line the water, just beyond the shore. Bike bells and pounding steps followed by the scent of sweat. The occasional seal greets from afar, soon chased away by a ship’s horn. Gritty sand is cool in the shadow of the logs that line the beaches. Hills of grass and a spattering of trees give a semblance of privacy. 

   Every few months, fireworks cheer, costumes parade the streets. And sometimes birthday suits on two wheels flash past amongst cheering laughs.

   Languages hum to each other. Every corner, a new one. Pointing fingers, flashing cameras, and large buses driving just a bit too slowly through the winding, illogical streets.

   Yellow, red, black, signs lit, meters already running, slowing past bus stops and huffing when no one moves, speeding off for better luck elsewhere. Of course when you call, there are none available.

   Because when night falls, the buses retreat and the alcohol pours and the police are unyielding with their sirens and dooming slips of paper. Stumbling from the bars and clubs, money scattered throughout the night, the cabs are there to collect the rest.

   The scent of cuisines as you walk towards the water. Never the same one twice. Except for sushi. 

   Clothing sales as you move towards the pounding heart of traffic lights and beeping cars. Malls of stale air and clashing stores. Further away, niche boutiques and trendy wear eat away at your bank statement.

   You avoid the east. The used needles that sleep beside someone who is not all there at the moment. The transactions that take mere seconds, switching hands as fast as they greet each other. And after dark, the knives that flash.

   The buildings sigh downwards as you move north. Trees overtake the ground. Houses  coexist among them, each with pet plants growing, well manicured and obedient. Here you hear the children playing, the dogs barking. Occasionally the complaint of a hungry cat.

   Vehicles grunt their way up the steep roads. Colourful shoes flash as joggers and cyclists challenge the slopes. Up and up, until the forests swell, ripe with bird calls, dainty hooves, and snuffling snouts. 

   And the mountains overlook with the fondness as the city spreads like competing children. At the buildings that covet the watery view and the bright colours of the sun’s extremes.

   As light fades, the clouds, in a rare moment of kindness, may choose to reveal the sky’s solemn sentries that dot the darkness in a slow, rotating guard. The city lights glimmer like a dying fire’s embers. It’s warm, and if you could, you would reach out and touch it.

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A fun Friday challenge by OM to describe any city in less than 1 000 words. I decided to describe my city, Vancouver. Has anyone ever visited before? Can you relate?

Appreciating Where I Am

Really, ever since I came back from Korea, I’ve felt like a tourist, appreciating just how beautiful of a city Vancouver is.

I’m especially lucky to work near the water, and to walk past this every day.

Lonsdale Quay

And if I’m in one of the classrooms with a window, I get to see some amazing sunsets.

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I’m so glad that I’m able to appreciate the natural beauty this much.

My phone has a panorama feature??

So I found out that I can take panorama shots with my phone. I, err, totally read the manual…

So I kinda went to town cus it was sunny out, and Vancouver is beautiful.

Granville Island

Granville Island

False Creek

False Creek

Rainbow ferry ride across False Creek

Rainbow ferry ride across False Creek

“What? Korea has electricity?” and similar ridiculousness

You’re moving to Korea? Are you going to live at a rice paddy?

There are cars?

There’s electricity?

Will you have internet?

Having grown up in a multicultural society, I didn’t even know that ignorance of this level about (South) Korea existed until yesterday…

And I’m rather ashamed to say that it came from (elderly) Canadians…