Light Enough to Travel

We've spent the better part of the last week selling, cleaning and re-organising ourselves for our huge adventure. I can't believe we leave on Saturday ... only two more sleeps!

If I had to pick one song to sum up the last few days it would be Light Enough to Travel by the Be Good Tanyas, especially in view of today's terrible hangover. We had an informal going away party last night. It was good fun but dutch beer is strong - yay for 2 am food in China Town! Thanks to all the lovely people who came out - we'll miss you. Come and visit us somewhere on the road - seriously. 

In the meantime, we're still not light enough to travel, but we're getting there...

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Ten Things Meme

From LA at Freckled Nest... 

1. Favorite hobby?

2. Favorite tv show?
Warning - spoilers and much sadness below!

3. Favorite restaurant food? 

Image by Sebasitan Mary

4. Favorite thing to shop for?
Dresses - not Blythe dolls. 
Image by Ro/Wererabbit

5. Favorite animal?
Image from Ffffound

6. Favorite song?

7. Favorite word?

8. Recent favorite youtube video?

9. Favorite movie?

10. Favorite childhood memory?
Being at the beach.

Ok, now you do it (Friday, Carrie, Brette, Claire, Rhiannon and Michelle I'm looking at you...) and put the URL of the post in the comments so I can read it.

All unattributed photographs above were taken by me.

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Less Than Two Weeks Left...

"She was woozy and heart-swollen in the downtown, wandering wet streets that gleamed as you would have them gleam in the sweet summer film of your life."

From Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

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Saskatchewan Pops Up in the Most Unlikely of Places

The reference is in the first few minutes of the clip. The nanny is from Saskatchewan (wherever that is?!) from one of my favourite television shows ever, Six Feet Under.

PS: The nanny is played by the actress who is Emma from Glee!

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Ephemera of Crystal

I know some genuinely lovely ladies and lately I've been feeling the urge to write about them. Recently I blogged about my friend Vanessa and over the last week, I've been running into images and things online that remind me of my best friend Crystal (pictured with me, above left).

The summer before grade ten, I was home alone on a hot day when I got a frantic call from the sister of my neighbour, who had lived alone in the big house next door since his lovely wife passed away a few years earlier. I'd known and loved the Howards all my life - the older couple were always sweet to me, and I spent some wonderful days playing with their visiting grandchildren every summer. The call I received was worrying - no one had spoken to Mr. Howard for a few days, which raised their concern. They asked if I would go next door to check in.

It was late morning and I can remember the heat had already settled in. I got to his door and rang the doorbell. After no answer, I opened the screen door and knocked on the inside door, which caused it to open slightly. The house was dark and still and it was difficult to see anything beyond the sliver of bright sunlight just inside the doorway. Against all the voices in my head (similar to the ones most people experience when watching a horror film - "DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT!") I went in and the only happy ending to the story is that, a few months later, Crystal's family moved in.

The worst part probably wasn't finding him (he had been gone for awhile at that point and it didn't look like it had been a struggle) but the part afterward. I am pretty sure I called an ambulance (just in case) but then I had to call his sister back and tell her what I'd found. My own family was about a half an hour out of town at our cabin and, at the time, we didn't have a phone out there so I couldn't get a hold of them. The ambulance took him away and his sister and some family members came to the house next door - I'm not sure why. And I made them sandwiches and things because that's what one does, or at least it seemed so to me.

So this incredibly sad thing is how Crystal and I came to be good friends. I already knew who she was (we went to the same relatively small high school) but when I randomly got a phone call from her that summer asking me if I lived anywhere near her new house and we discovered she was moving in next door, there was barely a blip between her changing from a girl I knew to someone I loved.

We spent our last three years in high school figuring out ways to thwart her mother's rules - often unsuccessfully - and dancing to oldies in the attic of the big old house she lived in. Our friendship hasn't been perfect and we've fallen out in the harsh, horrible and hurtful way that only good friends can do - but, even thousands of miles away, I know she's one of those stand-out significant people in my life.

Since moving to the UK, I don't often get to see my ladies (with the exception of Jackie - the only one who lives close by from the short list of women I would put into this category) but distance and time never really matters with that special category of friend. I'm hoping to see a few of these gals during my travels over the next few months (and some of them have been kind enough to offer us a place to sleep en route - thank you!) and will even get to see one of them get married (swoon!).

So, my lovely Crystal, here are some things I've come across online lately that remind me of you:

Image Credits:

Movie Still from Heavenly Creatures, found here
Moleskine image from here.
John and Yoko image from here.
Tavi image from here

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Links - Week of April 3 to April 10

Part of my ongoing weekly attempt to share my favourite web things, as bookmarked in Delicious.

April 10
April 9
April 8
April 7
April 6
April 5
Previous Related Making Strange Posts: 
Image Credit: Link by Dunechaser

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This May Be the Best Video Ever

Via Cute Overload.

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I've Always Wanted to Go to Japan

Japan - The Strange Country (Japanese ver.) from Kenichi on Vimeo.

I can't remember when I first fell in love with the idea of Japan, but there are a few distinct moments/experiences that are indelibly tied to my (likely wrong-minded) impression of it. Among these, my short stint as a waitress at a restaurant called Neo-Japonica in the late '90s stands out.

When I was a university student, I spent the better part of a year working at what was then Regina's only Japanese restaurant. I had only tried sushi once before working there, on a whim when I was about 20. I didn't know what to order and, when it arrived, I didn't know what to do with it. The smell reminded me of formaldehyde and I'm pretty sure I ate very little of it.

I applied for the job at Neo-Japonica mainly out of laziness and necessity. I needed a job and the restaurant was literally a five minute walk from my flat. Apart from fairly decent tips, the only benefit was that when working, staff got to eat for free. Sometime after the hazing when the cooks filled the first roll I ate as an employee with strong Wasabi, I fell a little bit in love with the food and with the ritual of eating it. I was in my early twenties, and in-between serving tables, I was lucky enough to try all kinds of amazing dishes in the server's cubby at the back of the restaurant, usually while listening to a bad medley of pop song from the 80s and early 90s covered by instrumental Japanese jazz bands. I didn't love everything on the menu and I'm still not a fan of octopus (especially those whole baby ones we served) and I don't like the idea of dipping pieces of uncooked beef in raw egg... But I love raw tuna and salmon, miso soup with extra green onions, yakitori of pretty much any variety, warm sake, udon noodles (any noodles actually), tempura, green tea ice cream... even just some sticky rice with lovely, salty Kikoman soy sauce...

Life as a waitress at Neo-Japonica wasn't always brilliant, but when I think back on it, I mostly remember really good things. It was a strange little family of people, the food was good and my memories are mostly dreamy impressions - the lingering tastes of things I grew to love eating while working there.

Now Regina has a number of Japanese restaurants, including an all-you-can-eat sushi bar and a place with a sushi train. With all the competition, I've heard that Neo-Japonica has closed down. It makes me a bit sad that everyone abandoned it once the flashy, new (and probably cheaper) places opened up. It was a really good place - one of the few unique Asian restaurants in Regina to open up in the mid-90s - certainly a minority among the steak chains and all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.

Dan and I are planning to be in Japan for about three months this autumn as part of our year long adventure, and it will be interesting to see how my impressions of the place connect with its reality. Sophia Coppola's film Lost in Translation is one of my favourites, not only because it is beautifully shot in the neon-lit, kookiness of Tokyo, but because in it she captures the strange, fleeting, disorientating loneliness of visiting a new place. We carry all of these preconceived impressions and hopes with us everywhere we go and even (especially?) when blanketed with new experiences, we grip to them tightly and hold ourselves a little bit apart - or at least I do. I think I relate to the film so much because I understand new places not by assimilating, but by riding the edges of the differences, the cracks, the strangeness.

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You Have 80 Liters. What Would You Take?

It's now less than a month until Dan and I fly away for a year of travel. We're making a lot of progress towards getting ready, but probably not as much as we should be. I'm a pretty easy problem to solve - when I moved to the UK in the autumn of 2008, I brought two suitcases and a file box. In the year and a half since then, I've accumulated a bit of stuff, but it's pretty manageable. Dan, on the other hand, has decades and decades of things and, being a collector and a musician, he doesn't just have books and DVDs. We're talking typewriters, drum kits, musical equipment galore, a collection of antique video game consoles... There's been a lot of progress, but no matter how much we get rid of, store or sell,  occasionally it still feels like we're buried under a mountain of things. We'll have to hold on to some of it until the very last minute because we can't really do without a bed, or kitchen utensils for the next four weeks.

On Saturday, we made a monumental decision about how much luggage we will take with us on the grand voyage. Initially, we were talking about one large suitcase on wheels each, plus an additional (and substantial) carry-on bag each. With each passing week, as we've lugged and cleaned and carted things around, I think we've both gotten a bit more realistic about how much of a pain a huge amount of heavy luggage would be. It would be fine to wheel around heavy bags through the streets of Canada and America, but when we started imagining the dusty rounds of the small Mexican town we're staying in, the inevitable long, squished bus rides of South East Asia or even the narrow, crowded streets of Tokyo, the lure of hauling around all that stuff began to look pretty unappealing.

So the decision - instead of carting around suitcases, we will each have an 80 liter backpack plus one manageable piece of carry-on luggage. To seal the deal, on Saturday we went to Covent Garden and I picked up an Osprey Women's backpack (on sale!) to compliment the one Dan already has (why can't these practical things be prettier?!).

One of my most important tasks over the next four weeks will be to decide what I am going to bring with me. Luckily, we are open to buying things as we travel when we need them so, when we get to Japan in October, we'll be picking up winter jackets and other bits and pieces as required as opposed to carrying them around for six months. Even so, editing our stuff down will be a gigantic challenge.

Over the last two years, I've gone from being a girl with a house full of stuff, to one who, in less than a month, will be able to fit most of her worldly belongings into an 80 liter space. Wow! Trading my all my frocks and shoes for the world - a pretty good bargain really. 

If you had only an 80 liter pack, what would you take with you?

Snail image by Quacktaculous.

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Links - March 28 to April 4

I've started using , which automatically sends the links I share via Twitter to my Delicious bookmark set. It works great and it even transfers over tags so that everything remains nicely categorised. For more superfluous stuff that you don't actually care about bookmarking, you can set-up so that it doesn't transfer over Tweet links that use a pre-determined tag (i.e. #nd). works great so far and any issues I've had are my own (I've forgotten to tag tweets and so find myself going into Delicious to tag them after the fact). It's great to know that all the links I like will find their way into my inconsistently categorized pile of bookmarks in Delicious because it's so easy to loose things in Twitter, especially as their search functionality doesn't look any farther back than a week.

In honour of my exciting new bookmarking system, I thought I'd try to get in the habit of posting my weekly list of things I liked on here. Normally it will happen on Sundays, but today is a bank holiday, so same delio:

April 2
April 1
March 30
Image Credit: Link by Dunechaser

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Draw Stuff and Share it with Penolo

My industrious other half Dan has created a nifty new creativity app called Penolo that allows people to draw and share their sketches on Twitter or by embedding them onto your blog or website.

It's still in beta, so there are some kinks to iron out, but it is a pretty great little tool. One of my favourite things about it is that it enables collaboration by allowing users to create hybrid sketches by adapting what others have created (the original also stays in tact).

You don't need an account and it's free to use - so give it a go!

Here are some of my favourite sketches from the last few weeks:
(for those of you viewing this on a reader - I'm sorry but you'll need to click through to the actual post to see the images... as I said, still working out some glitches.)

By studiobrazley

By bkcl

By bkcl

By Caro Wallis1

By Mearso

By Sianz

By Handy Bite Size

By Rich_R

By Speak Criptic

By Mark Turner

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