Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Forbidden City

(except to the corporate concubine)

During my latest trip to China Mike and I took an afternoon to walk through the grounds of China's Imperial Palace. Though both of us have seen temples, palaces and ruins before, the company made the adventure so much more memorable. We were not in a rush, we had no where we had to be, we weren't on a tourist trip - it was more like going for a stroll in the park.

With a stop at the Forbidden Cities own Starbucks (think what you will of this...) we meandered through gates, up stairs and across courtyards while taking in the not-to-polluted air (the next day had a visibility of less than zero so were were lucky).

We had a chance encounter with some HZ friends and made new acquaitances with some foreigners visiting from NY. Unfortunately, we were frustrated at the lack of respect shown by whomever decided to let their child defecate on the palace stairs. However, all-in-all, the small adventure was grand.

Here is a site where you yourself can take a 360degree interactive tour of one of the courtyards in the palace - enjoy. http://www.thebeijingguide.com/forbidden_city/forbidden_city_virtual_tour.html

Monday, February 26, 2007


It was a dark night (hehe) and I had ventured out to Kana's for a bit of socializing when I first met HIM. Blonde hair, blue eyes, dazzling smile. But, me being me and it being a bar, I pretty much ignored HIS friendly banter. Weeks later I would realize that we had met before and I would shake my head that I had not been more friendly for HE was a kindred spirit with whom a lifetime friendship would be developed.

In the 2 years that I was to spend in HZ with HIM, we share the joys of birthdays and christmas' as well as the pains of leaving parties and broken hearts. HE was always there as a support, but more than that, he made me laugh...that deep hearted laugh that lasts so long and strong it brings tears to the eyes.

Memories of sushi dinners ("I cooked it myself you know"), the contortionist ability of dogs ("if only I could do what she does, imagine how happy I would be"), and "the wheels on the birthday bus go round and round" brings a smile to my face every time.

Today we now live in separate cities, in separate countries, but we always seem to be able to find each other for those few moments every once in a while and it helps keep us real ("OMG...I've been around the sun...").

So, this one is just for HIM and as a wish for all others that you too could have a HIM in your world too.

1st Time 1st Class

Having flown around the world a number of times, it is starting to pay off. This past trip to China I was able to reap some rewards and flew 1st class both directions. It was my first time at the front of the bus and, as they (whoever "they" are) say, it will be hard to return to economy seating. For those of you who have flown 1st class before, you may find my experience to be a bit amusing. For those who have not, you have something yet to look forward to as it is an adventure.

In1st class you are provided with a pillow that is just a little bigger and a "duvet" instead of a blanket. There is definitely more leg room and the reclining seats are much wider.

When you arrive on the plane and are settled you are offered your choice of juice or champagne, and it is served in a glass glass, not paper or plastic. Appetizers are served as well as salads with little individual oil/vinegar dressing and salt/pepper containers. There are several choices of bread that are served warm (as opposed to that cold, hard bun in economy class), you have your choice of 3 entrees and then comes the cheese and fruit cart followed by the desert cart. An individual table cloth is provided for each passenger and food arrives on real dishes which are cleared away in stages as you finish.

Customer service is at a much higher level in this section with small pouches filled with eye covers, extra socks, earplugs, toothbrush and paste, and shoe deodorizers. Not to mention, the headsets provided are far superior at eliminating noise.

Though I usually find travelling in economy class to be fine, I can definitely see the appeal to flying 1st class for long hauls. I shall have to find more ways to accomplish this in the future.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


It was July 2005 and I had been chatting with my colleague, Kat, about wanting a kitten - preferrably one that needed to be wanted when she called me one evening and said that there was a small cat wandering around her complex yallowing. I decided to go check the kitten out - she was great! Though skinny, slightly injured, and obviously starving - she had a feisty little spirit.

At the time we didn't know if she was a boy or girl (not so easy to tell on kittens you see) and so we named her Sammy. Turns out she was a she, but the name still stuck - it suited her.

There was a bit of uncertainty as to whether she would survive, but survive she did. She grew from a scraggely, big eyed, big eared kitten into an incredibly loving and beautiful cat.

We believe that she had been trapped by something which had caused her back leg to be slightly crippled, though it didn't impair her in any way, and she had lost a one claw and a tooth - but these injuries healed well over time.

When we brought a new little homeless kitten in, Sammy detested her for the first few days. However, once she decided that Mika could stay they became insparable with Sammy meowing if she couldn't find Mika.

Unfortunately, a week ago Sammy took ill. We may never know what it was that caused her to become so sick, but on Friday Feb. 23rd, in the loving care of Paul and Kat, Sammy passed away. She will be missed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...


On Jan. 29th - so excited to get into the world that he came 6 weeks early, little Elijah Arthur was born to VERY proud parents Vicky and Ben.

Coming in at just over 5lbs, his dad says that he is doing well. Though exhausted, Vicky was also doing well.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Application Journey

I talk alot on this blog about applying for scholarships and awards. It seems like a simple idea - fill out application, put in envelope, seal, stamp and mail. I wish it could be that easy. A few weeks ago I completed my application for the Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program (CCSEP). Though must applications are not this complicated, I thought I would share what it took to put this particular one together.

First, there is the application itself. Though often applications like this one are generally clearly laid out, it takes time to fill in all the blanks and ensure that all information is accurate, clear, and error free.

Next, most applications call for either a statement of research or, in this particular case, a study plan.
Then, there are the recommendation letters that must be collected from 2-3 professors.

In addition, one needs transcripts of all post-secondary education and for me this means 3 institutions. The requests take approximately 2 weeks, so planning to complete an application must start well in advance.

For the CCSEP I was also required to complete a medical and have a chest x-ray done (not normally done for an application, but China has a few variations).

The CCSEP also requires that 5 copies of each document be submitted and all must be official - this requires the applicant (in this case me) to either request 5 official copies or to have 4 copies of an original notarized. I can only thank my stars that my landlady is a police officer and was kind enough to notarize all the copies for me, otherwise the cost of the application goes through the roof.

Once all pieces are obtained, it is necessary to check and double check that nothing has been missed and that all components are completed to their fullest. It then is possible to saunter over to the local post office and send the package off with a sigh and a cross of the fingers that all this work will actually lead to an award being granted.

Though there are variations to each application, all are complex and time consuming. So, the next time you read about me working on a scholarship or award application you can share in the challenge of what such an event means.



What, you ask, is International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day?

It all started on a snowy February day in Rochester, NY back in the 1970s. Florence Rappaport's youngest two children were bored, it was too cold to go outside and play. So what did their Mom do? Served them ice cream for breakfast, that's what! On that weekend morning, little did she know that her creative attempt to make a slow day exciting would in fact become her legacy.

Mrs. Rappaport's kids grew up and went to college, taking the tradition with them. They told some friends who told some friends, each making the day their own.

Almost forty years later, ICFBD has spread worldwide. The Rappaports, their six children and 13 grandchildren traveled to as far-flung places as Israel, Honduras, Namibia, England, Nepal and even China, sowing the seeds of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day wherever they went and making it a truly international festival.

Local media got a hold of the story in the 80s and shared the holiday with their readers on the front page. Even today ICFBD still makes news in newspapers and magazines around the world. Last year, ICFBD was introduced in a calendar for the first time!

Mrs. Rappaport is no longer with us, but the holiday she created grows yearly.

So, how does one celebrate ICFBD?

It's simple.

  1. Eat Ice Cream
  2. For Breakfast
  3. On the first Saturday in February

In the Empress Ave. household we could not let the day pass without also participating in this important international event. As such, Nina, Jen, Kelly, and I celebrated with a grand pancake and icecream breakkie!

If you missed out this year, be sure to mark it on your calendar for the years to come. It is definitely worth stopping for a morning to share with your friends and family!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

School Thoughts

The journey of my PhD is being made with 4 other women. Starting from left are:
Catherine (from Edmonton), Ahna ( from the Kootney area), Jolly (from Uganda), Me, and Cole (from Fernie).
We survived the first semester together and it was a process of growing into each other.
Following the Christmas holidays we have become a much stronger team in learning. As we plough through a course in statistics we have learned to depend on each other's strengths and realize that we function better as a collective of minds. This has made each class that much more enjoyable and profitable.
When April arrives we will finish our residency and some of us will head out to different areas of the world to continue pursuing our research. Though I look forward to returning to the opportunities in China I will miss the environment of school.

Hello February

New month and a change to go with it. I made an appointment with Shawn at Maison George and went there at 10am for a haircut. Shawn was fabulous. While he cut we chatted and 2 hours later I had left my locks on the floor and walked out the door just a little lighter. It was fun. Shawn's Thursdays are relatively free so he didn't have any clients waiting and it gave us time to just hang out while he re-designed my hair. What fun!