Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: Monkey Beach

Every year, the university I work at chooses a "book of the year". We all (assumably) read it and the the author visits.

After the profound experience that was my read of Indian Horse, I decided to read a couple vintage books of the year. First I read Chorus of Mushrooms (meh). Next up, Monkey Beach.

Book of the Year 2002

Monkey Beach
By Eden Robinson
377 pages

I decided to read Monkey Beach because I was still on and aboriginal literature kick, plus the main character has the same first/middle name combo as me. Couldn't pass that up! When the story opens, Lisamarie's 17 year old brother Jimmy has been lost at sea. From there, the book moves back and forth through time as Lisa tells the story of their childhood and wayward teenage years, growing up in a contemporary Haisla community on the west coast of B.C. She weaves the lives of her family and friends throughout, and includes compelling lessons about native culture and traditional ways of life. As the book progresses, it becomes quite clear Lisa has spiritual gifts and those are integral to her survival as she goes searching for her brother. The narrative is interesting and funny and tragic all at the same time.

This novel was fantastic! It was almost lyrical, full of rich description about nature and customs and folktales. Sometimes books that bounce in time annoy me but Robinson does a superb job of not making the time shifts jarring or confusing. I didn't want the story to end, I was all wrapped up in the setting and lives of the characters.

And then it ended. Just ended. And it's not that it ended badly or that I was unsatisfied, it's just that it ended. I just wanted another page, heck another paragraph. I guess that's the mark of a good book and a thought provoking ended?

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more from contemporary aboriginal literature. I taught me about life in a community in a different part of Canada. It was a great follow up to Indian Horse and I understand why they chose it as a book of the year.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book Review: Come, Thou Tortoise

It's book club's two year anniversary this month. I've been with the book club less than a year, but I'm happy they've let me be a part of their group - I've really enjoyed getting back into reading and getting to know the ladies better!

For this month, we decided to re-read a book another member had read for a previous book club month. I chose to read Come, Thou Tortoise, a book read by Leah for January 2013's book club (Canadian author), which was before my time in book club.

And I certainly didn't regret the choice!

March 2014: Re-read of another club members previous book club choice (gosh I really can't figure out how to describe that better!)

Come, Thou Tortoise
By Jessica Grant
412 pages

The only words I can think of that sum up this book are "awkwardly sweet but in an awesomely quirky way", if that makes any sense!

Audrey (Oddly to her family) Flowers is an articulate woman "of low IQ". When the book opens, she is travelling from Oregon back home to Newfoundland to visit her father, who is in a coma after a freak accident. She leaves her pet tortoise behind with some friends, and henceforth the book alternates between Audrey's point of view and Winnifred, the tortoise's point of view. The book also flashes back in time to tell the story of young Audrey and her family and friends. This makes for a sweet and funny and heartbreaking but hopeful romp through Audrey's life. All the stories, combined with a few mysteries, reveal unique details about Audrey and her family.

This book has no quotation marks and makes full use of word play - which makes it cute and quirky. It can be confusing in parts about what lines are Audrey's inner voice or actual dialogue, but this wasn't a problem at all and just added to the tone of the novel. I couldn't put it down and loved it front to back. It was the perfect book for me: cute, funny, not super romancey, friendly, happy ending, hopeful, poignant - awesome.

What more is there to say - read this book! You'll fall in love with Audrey, and will get wrapped up in her world while she tries to solve the mysteries of her quirky life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship: Tweets and Wrap Up

Here is my usual wrap up post! Catch up my thoughts and photos of the 2014 Brier:

Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5

Kamloops was a great Brier. It was the perfect mix of work and curling and friends and food and relaxing and friendly folks. I'll miss all the great people but I'm sure I'll see some of them down the road. I'm glad the CCA let me join them!

But I have a niggling feeling that this might be my last gig as an IT intern. And I think I'm ok with that - it was a good run but I think I'm ready for a change. As mentioned earlier, I have a few ideas about what I can do as a curling volunteer going forward, and I definitely want to be at the 2015 Brier in Calgary! I let you know how I get there...

Below are my tweets to archive my adventure. As is the twitter way, oldest is at the bottom

Sunday, March 9, 2014

#Brier update 5 - the final weekend: 

#Brier hangover day 1. Lonely. Travel day. 14 hours till home! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Just teared up during a cat food commercial. I need to go home. I miss my cats. #pathetic #crazycatlady

The sad part is saying good bye to all the friends I've meet and seen this week. Hopefully I'll see them all down the road! #brier

Organized chaos. #brier

Whoohoo! #brier

Volunteers about to go out on the ice. They've been awesome all week - THANK YOU! #Brier

Congrats Team Alberta!! #Brier

Getting crowded backstage. And yes, there is a pipe band! #brier

Granite houses. #brier

Tankard about to be carried out. Teams must play 9. #sotheytellme #brier

Duelling flags. Still anyone's game! #brier

Draw to the button made the 12 foot for $10,000. Not bad for a new curler! @CapitalOneCA #brier

About to throw for the million dollar @CapitalOneCA draw to the button! I'm hoping for a mascot race too...

Standing room only! Luckily got me a pillar. Building is busy and loud! #brier

My last @CCACurling game live for awhile? Exciting, but bittersweet - it's been a long week, but a great week!

Train. Detour. Police closed the traffic circle. Detour. Longest ride to the arena yet. But very scenic. #brier

Closing reception. All star teams coming soon! #flyonthewall #brier

Sitting with the media guys at the Awards Reception. More formal than I expected. Shoulda changed my shoes. #brier

Woman in crowd yelled "Where as that yesterday?!" after great shot by Mead. He took his shoe off and pretended to throw it at her. #brier

Possibly the only one really awake this morning is #brier bear. #lotsofenergy #igotahug 

OH at the #brier: "I thought your go was a whoa." "Oh."


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nope. Just one "boom". Good game tonight! #brier

Potentially coming up: "le boom boom"... #brier

Hanging out at the #brier with @emthemonkee! #distain

#brier bear goes #curling...

Gotta love the @SociableBrier gang!

Just watched #brier bear give the littlest girl the biggest hug and she was so happy and excited I might've teared up a bit.

Had one last tasty meal from @EatsAmore! Thanks for feeding me! Support your local food truck folks!

Woe is me. I screwed up media scrum footage. But I learned a new skill and fixed it. Not pretty, but fixed. #oops #pleasedontfireme #brier

Stu is interviewing the puppet guy!! #brier

Here's @PhotoVagrant taking a photo of his Lego self! @LEGO_Curling #brier

I love this so much. I want a #curling me minifig!! @LEGO_Curling is awesome! #brier

Gold medalists media scrum backstage now... #brier

No #curling either! #Brier

Saw this on my way out of the arena last night. Vintage. #brier #curling

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just heard The Patch is a 90 minute wait to get into!! #brier #have1forme 
#Brier update 4! Mostly it's about food with a bunch of photos...

It's my fault. I wore my tshirt again today. #brier

A happy Johnny Mo is heading to the #brier final

Here's Cotter! He's going to the #brier final!

Koe after the loss. They have another life tomorrow in the semi! #brier

Arena is packed. First time this week I haven't been chilly while watching the draws. Bet it's affecting the ice? #brier

The @SociableBrier gang is back! #brier

Rock hats made out of duct tape! Gotta get them in a score update next end. Follow @CCACurling to see if I can do it!

Two pipers and a trophy. Must be playoffs. #brier

Could've spent no-tiebreaker walking river trails. Instead: reading a good book & dreaming about roller derby. #weird

One of my favourite things about Kamloops has been delicious food from @EatsAmore! If you're local check them out!

So here's where we ended up. Did your predictions come through? #brier

No tiebreaker! What am I supposed to do all afternoon?? #brier

Wondering if this is the last time we'll see the Koe brothers together at the #brier?

Aw, now one game is 5-4. 4-4 4 way broken! #brier

All 4 games are currently tied at 4 in the 7th! #brier

In case you're wondering how much gas is in Kamloops... #luckyalberta

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The week is almost over. I'll never get tired of this view though. Watching 4 games at a #brier is a special thing.

It's that time of the event when everyone backstage is speculating about tiebreakers & who's in 1-2 game. Everyone's got an opinion. #Brier

Photographers confirmed puppet is a ventriloquist dog. There's also a westie service dog in the building. #Brier is going to the dogs!

Old guy way across the arena has a puppet. Was just feeding it beer. It's "watching" the #curling. Weird. Must inspect closer later. #brier

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Musician is practicing on the ice. I'd expect a live performance at some point. And he's got a #curling song!

Here's #Brier update 3!

Took a walk downtown earlier tonight. Nice to see some local businesses decorating their shop windows #brier style!

That thing where all the teams are on a 5th end break at the same time. #brier

Lost my nice water bottle somewhere in the arena, but this is my office so... #brier

Bought a super cute #curling rock at High Country Stained Glass, just a block from the Patch!! #brier

Did you miss this last night? #goodtimes: "The Morris/Balsdon interview from earlier. Highlarious. #brier"'

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Morris/Balsdon interview from earlier. Highlarious. #brier

So this is happening now... #brier

Gave my @CCACurling pin to a kid with like 40 pins on his jacket. Training up a new generation! #Brier

Chatted to 2 @TCDDs derby girls selling 50/50s. Convinced me I'm not too old or out of shape to try derby when I get back from the #brier!

Maybe I can't be a statistician - I can't even see the other end of the ice! #brier #70yroldeyes

Monday, March 3, 2014

Good night! #brier 

#Brier update 2. So far the people are friendly and the #curling has been fun to watch!

Clothes lining oneself with ones headphone cord is perhaps not the best way to impress media men. #oops #ouch #brier

Monday morning. Got to sleep in. Instead of staring at my computer in my office, this is my view. #goodtimes #brier 

I'm supposed to be unbiased when I work events, but I'm secretly wearing this today. #Brier

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My sister thought it would be fun to bring her kitten over to meet my cats. Kitten had fun, mine not so much.

My favourite curler sayings of the day: "That's a peach!" and "You don't want to cheese dog it." #brier

Tried to talk myself onto 2015 #yyc #Brier Directors team. Should I try out for Brier Bear? Or get trained as an official or do stats?

Spotted coaches bench trying out Zoomies! #brier
Another delicious lunch from @EatsAmore! Pumpkin mac and cheese! Can't wait till they come back later in the week...

My first update from the #Brier!

Mr. Koe & his polar bear flag are in the house! Think I'll sit in the Koe section for the AB vs NWT game! #brier

It's only day 2 but I've already lost all concept of date/time. In this case that's a good thing! #brier

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Menard/Crete (QUE) are by far the best yellers on the ice tonight! #brier

TSN FM radio signal is working in the arena! Bring your FM tuner or buy a radio from the merch booth! #bliss #brier #curling

Best idea ever? Parking a food truck outside the venue. Wondering if I should hit up @EatsAmore for dinner - lunch was delicious!! #brier

Just like riding a bike. I am a media scrum editing machine! #brier #curling #loading

Here we go! #brier #curling

The piper is practicing outside our IT office. One of my favourite parts of these event! #brier

Just ran an errand for a rock star. Yep I love working these events! #swoon #brier

Final rounds of Ford Hot Shots on now. Fun to watch if you're ever at an event! #brier #curling

We broke it. #brier

Maybe instead of joining roller derby I should join a pipe band? I could at the big drum! #brier

Is this the final 4? Who do you think is going to win the year's #Brier #curling??

Ladies and gentleman I can confirm we have a pipe band! #Brier

I hear bagpipes. I see Mounties. I smell doughnuts. Must be #Brier time!

Friday, February 28, 2014

I have arrived. I do love this view! #brier

Arrived in Kamloops. Might as well be Mexico: it's 30 degrees warmer here and there's no snow. #brier

Well they let me check in so Kamloops is a go! Eavesdropping on group of fans picking their winners while waiting to board. #Brier

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship: Update 5

Saturday, March 8, 2014
This was supposed to be a rather relaxed day of watching curling. Except the Olympic gold medalists are in town so it was chaos backstage. Fun times.

Today was the day I finally, after all these events, really truly screwed up my job. Don't ask how it happened, but I never got any video of the 3v4 Page Playoff Media Scrum. No, no babies would've died, but I always try to do my best at these event because I want to come back henceforth! Thankfully the one of the reporters helped me out and I was able to splice his audio with still photographs and my "video" turned out ok. And I'm not getting fired. Phew! (And this was after I was late for filming the Gold Medalist Media Scrum because no one told me and I hadn't plugged in the mic so we got iffy audio for the skip and then I walked out of the building without my accreditation and almost couldn't get back in. Oiy.)

Never notice this till now, hung up in the arena. Vintage!

Olympic gold medalists Team Brad Jacobs are in town. Chaos ensued.

The aforementioned Gold Medalist media scrum.

Love love love the Lego curling set! It's a complete arena with all the Brier participants, from the curlers to the TSN folks and the Sociables. Awesome awesome awesome.

I totally love it! I want a curling minifigure me!

A shot of the house from the morning 3v4 game.

This dude had a puppet, and he was treating it as a real dog half the time, like it would watch curling and talk to his wife. Weird.

No curling either.

Ready to go for the semi!

The Sociables are great for getting the crowd into it! 

Brier Bear goes curling.

Skips assume the positions.

Time out! Ready for "le boom boom?"

Sunday, March 9, 2014
Final day! It was an early wake up call for the bronze medal game thanks to Daylight Savings Time! It was a bit of a blow out game, but pretty relaxed. Then it was back to the hotel for the reception. My bad for thinking it would be like last year in Edmonton (which was low key and relaxed) - turns out it was fancyish and I didn't dress nicer or anything. Oops. Awkward. Plus I showed up right on time when really I should've been there early to get a seat? Luckily the media guys let me interlope and join their table, but still, awkward. But lunch so yay.

Then it was crazy time. The final game was sold out so I had to stand the whole game. Yay for pillars and railings to lean on! It was a bit of a blow out game too, but the crowd was really into it so it was fun. I spent the last two ends backstage trying to stay out of the way of the chaos. Volunteers, sponsors, anthem girl, ice makers, pipe band, mounties, staff, security, teams - chaos! 

As soon as the game ended we went onto the ice and filmed the scrum. I only had to hold the mic (no kneeling on the ice like in Winnipeg), but it was still pretty exciting. Then I watched a bit of the closing medal ceremonies before cutting my scrum. I thought it was really nice they let all the volunteers come out onto the ice at the end as a thank you. Edit. Post.

Pack up! More organized chaos. Honestly, I wasn't overly helpful. Home time.

What a bittersweet day. It was great watching all the action but sad too. I love being part of these events because you befriend strangers temporarily, but eventually you have to say good bye. And that's sad. Especially the CCA staff I've worked with repeatedly. Who knows when/if I'll see them again. Sad. But everyone at the event was super friendly! The whole team did a great job! And I'm sure I'll run into many of my new/old friends again down the road...

Fly on the wall at the closing reception.

Last view of the hills (and old residential school) from the highway on the way to the arena.

Ready to go for the final game!

My view from the pillar for the final (just so you know, it's much more close up than that! Silly camera focus.)

Busy. Standing room only! Sold out!

The Million Dollar draw to the button. Not quite the button for the full money, but the 12 foot for $10,000. Not bad for a new curler!

Shot of the action.

Duelling fans! It was loud in that building!

Mounties in charge of the Brier Tankard.

Granite houses.

Chaos and uniforms backstage!

Did I mention pipe band?

My view of the final scrum - John Morris

The winner and new Team Canada - Kevin Koe from Alberta!

Yay Team Alberta!

Hoisting the Tankard at the other end of the ice.

Pack up time!

The team is super efficient! It only takes a few hours.

Bye bye arena! Thanks for the memories!

Friday, March 07, 2014

2014 Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship: Update 4

Thursday, March 6, 2014
I had ramen for lunch and a tasty squash and zucchini for dinner. Oh yeah. There was curling.

I'll never get tired of this view. Watching 4 games during a draw at the Brier is a special thing.

Friday, March 7, 2014
Last morning of round robin play. I showed up as usual, late-ish, and caught up with one of my Wednesday Ladies league teammates who has come to watch the final weekend. It's always nice to see a familiar face!

There was no tiebreaker, so I should've gone for a long walk along the river during the long break, but instead I read, watched bad reality tv, and ate delicious lunch and dinner from my favourite food truck, Eats Amore while I dreamed about joining roller derby. I am not normal. Then it was off to the arena for an exciting 1-2 page playoff game. It's weird going from watching 4 games at once to just 1. The crowd was super loud! I was tweeting scores for the CCA twitter (hope I did ok) so I actually had to pay attention! Then it was rush downstairs to film the scrum (apparently my bum made it onto TSN, eek), edit, post. Hometime!

The last time we might see the Koe brothers side by side at the Brier??

Is this how you thought it would end up?

One of my favourite things about Kamloops has been the Eats Amore food truck. Delicious - and super nice people!! If you're local, check them out!

Beautiful view from my hotel.

Another beautiful shot later on at dusk. It's been a nice city, friendly people - I'd come back here again.

Getting ready to be piped in!

Two pipers and a Tankard!

Awesome curling hats made out of plastic party hats, duct tape, sharpie, cardboard and a nail scrubber!

The Sociables are back - always fun. Also notice the best sign in the arena tonight!

Trevor Panczak sang his curling love song "I Curl" - very clever, but I can't find it online...

Kevin Koe, ready for the semi-final tomorrow.

Jim Cotter, his first time off to a Brier final!

John Morris, pretty darn happy to be heading straight to the final!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

2014 Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship: Update 3

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Today was definitely a "middle of the event" day, and thus pretty routine. My biggest accomplishment of the day was finding some non-arena food to eat for lunch AND dinner. And we walked to dinner so that was good. Too much sitting. Too much arena food. Also I broke my almost two day doughnut free streak after they left out boxes of timbits near the media room. So close! I did have a lovely conversation with a couple derby girls from the Tournament City Derby Dolls and they convinced me I'm not too old or out of shape to join roller derby (watch for a blog post on that in the coming months...).

I spent some time today trying to figure out how to continue my volunteer involvement with the CCA. It's possible my cushy IT gig is up after this event, and I want to attend at least one even a season. I'm young, I can work, I'm pretty smart and learn quick - so I want to continue to help out to the best of my ability. I talked to someone about becoming a statistician (possibility) or an official (definitely a no go), someone else about helping with merchandise (maybe not as a supervisor but I could be a cashier, and they get paid but not necessarily accreditation to watch draws when off shift), someone else about being on the Calgary Brier organizing team (not really possible as I live in Edmonton 4 hrs away), and someone about doing some non-event time journalism. Or I could sell 50/50s (one of my favourite jobs, see here, here and here). It's all up in the air and requires a bit more thought, investigation and luck!

Highlight of the day was watching John Morris interview Greg Balsdon in the evening media scrum. Highlarious.

Pretty funny. Both guys were good sports.

Here's what a Northern Ontario moose call looks like. It's just a can with a hole cut in the top, then you pull a string/elastic/shoelace thing through it and it makes that noise you hear on tv. Moose cover optional but awesome.

Mrs. and Mr. Koe enjoying the evening draw.

Good night!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Mid week. Routine.  I took a long loopy walk downtown at dusk because I needed to get out of the arena, needed to get some fresh air, and needed to get some exercise.

I bought a really cute stained glass curling rock from a local shop. Neat find. Kamloops is a nice town. We've been trying to visit the locally owned restaurants too - people are really friendly.

It was nice to see some local business decorating their store windows Brier style!

I had a cranky sort of day. But then I remembered this is my office.

I'm completely unbiased behind the camera of course, but always appreciate the jokes and a little bit of snark!

It's hard to be grumpy when this is your view!