Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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NaBloPoMo – Day 26 – Happy 50th Birthday to the Arts Council of New Westminster

Today was the Annual General Meeting of the Arts Council of New Westminster, followed by its 50th birthday party! For the past 50 years, the ACNW has been bringing community of New Westminster together through the arts and I’m proud to have been a small part of that.

Name tag. Arts Council of New Westminster

I joined the board of ACNW back in June 2014, at the encouragement of my friend, Tig. It was shortly after I finished my MBA and it gave me my first experience of being on a board of directors. For the past year, I served as the secretary on the board. I got to work with a fabulous group of people, got to contribute to an organization that supports artists in the community and runs many of the amazing events that makes New West such a cool place to be. I learned a lot, made some great friends, and am proud of what we’ve accomplished over this time. I made the tough decision to step down from the board after 3+ years – with my day job getting busier and busier and my new role on CESBCY, I felt like I should not spread myself too thin and that it was a good time to make way for some new blood on the Arts Council board. I will continue to be a supporter of the ACNW, but now as a cheerleader on the side rather than as a member of the board. Looking forward to seeing what amazing things the ACNW does in the next 50 years!

Happy birthday, ACNW and thank you to all the artists, art enthusiasts, donors, staff, volunteers, board members, and ACNW members who make it all possible!


Paint Nite – Take 2

Remember that time I did a Paint Nite with Cath? Well, I also did a paint night with my friend Amy way back in the old timely days of October! Here’s the painting we were trying to paint – a heron sitting on a hill:

Paint Nite with Amy

My hero turned out to look more like a duck, but I’m OK with a duck on a hill:

Paint Nite with Amy

I don’t really love my clouds, but overall I’m happy enough with the painting that I’ll hang it up (once I figure out which wall I want to hang it on!)

Amy was unhappy with her initial attempt at the heron, so she painted over it making the hill bigger and did another heron!

And here are Amy and I with our masterpieces!

Paint Nite with Amy


I bought some stuff to hang on my walls

I’ve been looking for something to hang on one of my living room walls for a while, but I hadn’t been able to find something I liked that was big enough to put on this big empty wall, with the exception of a $2200 piece that I saw at Granville Island, but I just couldn’t justify that much money on a thing to look at1. The other day, however, I was browsing at my favourite consignment store, Champagne Taste2, and I came across this:

Silver art

It’s paint on canvas and it’s just big enough to justify going on my big empty living room wall.

Then this other piece – a print on canvas – caught my eye, mostly because I thought it would look good above my awesome purple chair:

John Seba - Pink Magnolias I

Right now it’s by my Christmas tree, but in January when the tree comes down, it will be directly above the chair. Unlike the silver one, where I have no idea who the artist was, this purple one came with the artist’s name – John Seba – and the artwork’s name – Pink Magnolias I – so I was able to Google it and find out what the original owner would have paid for this: $166.99. What I paid for it: $183 Since I have no idea where the silver one came from4, I have no idea what it’s value is, but I paid $255 for it, and I think that’s a pretty good deal.

  1. Clearly, I am not a sophisticated art connoisseur. []
  2. I.e., the place I got my awesome purple chair. Also, I have no affiliation with these guys – just love the stuff they sell! []
  3. Champagne Taste was having a tax-free sale, plus it had been marked down 40%. []
  4. It has the initials “RMA” on it, along with what kind of looks like a single triangle with a circle above it before the initials, but I can’t figure out who that is! []
  5. Also marked down 40% and tax-free []



What trip to Ireland would be complete with kissing the Blarney Stone?


Yes, I know that it’s a very tourist-y thing to do. But seeing as I was a tourist and all, I didn’t have a problem with that1.

The story goes that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you receive the “gift of the gab”. I always thought that meant that you’d talk a lot – and anyone who has met me for more than 5 seconds knows that I don’t need any help in the regard. But the “gift of the gab” is actually about eloquence – the ability to flatter in a very convincing way. Which seems like a valuable skill to have, no?


I only just now am realizing that I forgot to include Blarney Castle in my blog posting about castles. Castle FAIL!

Blarney Castle:


And lest you think that Blarney is just about the stone, may I present to you this garden with giant eyeballs in it, which we saw on our way through the grounds to get to Blarney Castle?




I’m not sure why, but I kind of love those eyeballs.

We’d been warned by our tour guide that the line up to kiss the stone gets long fast and so we went right to the castle to get in line2.

Even still, we ended up in quite a long line. And the line up for the stone, which is up on the top of the castle, runs through the narrow passageways and staircases of the castle. And it moves very, very slowly. I think you’d be in trouble if you were even a little bit claustrophobic and you were stuck in that lineup.

Notice the counterclockwise spiral staircase:


My mom and aunts at the top of the castle – waiting for our chance at the stone:


And me:


Part of what makes kissing the Blarney Stone a big deal is that you have to hang backwards over a ledge to get to it and it’s pretty high up. I took this photo to show you how high up, but it doesn’t look as high up in the photo as it felt in person! Photo fail!


Line up of people at the Blarney Stone:


And before we knew it, it was our turn to kiss the stone! Because the line gets so long, the guy who holds onto you so you don’t fall to your death3 really rushes people through. You have to lie on your back, grab the rails, and bend backwards to kiss the stone on the opposite wall.

Of our group, I was up first and no one even got a photo of me! Fortunately, Blarney Castle, like any good tourist trap, is ready for such an eventuality and takes a photo of you kissing the stone and then will sell it to you. Isn’t that nice of them? Here’s mine:


Despite warnings from my epidemiologist friends, I did not sanitize the stone before kissing it!

Once I had gone, I was quick on the draw and managed to snap photos of my mom:


Who kind of freaked out at the height, but managed to kiss the stone nonetheless!


My Aunt Eileen:


And my Aunt Lynn:


Here’s a view from the ground:


So you can see that the safety bars mean that even if you lost your grip on the handrails, and the guy lost his grip on you, and you were far enough over the edge to fall, you’d just land on the bars. No big deal.


After kissing the stone, we decided to check out the Poison Garden, which is, as you might expect, a garden full of plants that are poisonous:


Like the sign at the Cliffs of Moher, this was not a sign I was going to disobey!




One of the plants in the garden that was a surprise to me was rhubarb. Apparently while you can eat its root, eating the leaves will kill you!


Common laburnum:


We also checked out the Badgers Cave:


Here’s a picture of me in the Badgers Cave…


…shortly before my aunt informed me that there was a giant eight-legged monster in said cave, and I got the hell out of there!



Both my aunts escaped from the cave unharmed as well!

And the last notable thing from Blarney was that I got a painting! I’d seen it in the window of “Blarney Arts & Crafts” on our way to Blarney Castle, but I hadn’t stopped because we were so focused on getting to the stone so as to beat the lineup. But even though I’d only just looked at it briefly, I really liked it, and so on our way back to the tour bus I suggested we stop by the store so I could check it out in more detail. And then I decided I really did love it and after hemming and hawing about how I was going to get it back to Vancouver, my mom said, “Oh, just get it and we’ll figure it out later!” And so I did! (Or should I so, so my Aunt Eileen did, because she insisted on buying it for me. I’m very spoiled!).

Here’s a photo of me and the artist – although I didn’t catch his name and discovered when I got home that there’s no signature on the painting, so I have no idea who he is! [Update: I followed the Blarney Arts & Crafts Facebook page and, lo and behold, I saw an announcement there that they’d updated their webpage… and when I checked it out, the artist’s name was there where it wasn’t there before – Arthur Cansdale!]


As it turned out, this painting was just a wee bit too big to fit in my suitcase and I contemplated taking it as carry-on on the plane, but in the end my mom convinced me that I should just but a new suitcase, since mine was 1,000 years old and had a big rip in it anyway. So now I have an awesome new painting AND an awesome purple suitcase. Win-win!

  1. See also: this photo. []
  2. We actually talked to someone who had been there the previous day, but the line up was so long they couldn’t get to the stone, so they came back on this day first thing in the morning to make sure they got their chance. []
  3. In truth you can’t fall to your death because they have installed safety bars beneath where you hang over the edge. Probably because so many people fell to their deaths. []


Museums of London and Dublin

I think of all the museums I visited on my holidays, I liked the British Museum the most. I got to see the freaking Rosetta Stone!


And this awesome scarab:


A smaller version of which my aunt bought for me:


I think I’ll make it into a necklace.

We also went to the Victoria & Albert Museum1:


and to the National Gallery in London, which were both pretty awesome.


I especially liked this giant blue rooster outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square2:


I just googled it and appeared it is called ““Hahn/Cock” and was only installed about a week before we got there!

We got there a bit late in the day, so didn’t have a tonne of time to look at everything before it closed, but I did get to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks, which was pretty awesome. We couldn’t take photos in these museums, so you’ll just have to go there yourself if you want to see the awesomeness.

The museums we went to in Ireland, however, were not nearly as exciting. The National Gallery in Dublin seemed to have about four rooms of painting and sculptures by people I’ve never heard of:


And the Natural History Museum in Dublin was a giant room of taxidermic animals3:


Though this giant basking shark is pretty kickass:


As is this skeleton of a giant Irish deer:


In their defence, it looked like both of these museums were undergoing renovations, and I think a bunch of their exhibits were inaccessible because of this.

Also, there was so much awesomeness all over Ireland that I don’t want to give you the impression that Ireland does not rock, just based on these two museums. The awesomeness of Ireland shall be the subject of a whole slew of upcoming blog postings.

  1. We were going to go to the Natural History Museum too, but the line up was hours long and we figured we’d rather spend that time seeing stuff than waiting in line. Because it’s not like there’s a shortage of stuff to see in London! []
  2. Which you may recall from this posting that I posted earlier today []
  3. I thought that they were called “taxidermied animals, but my spell check said it should be “taxidermic” and Merriam-Webster agreed. But spell check says that both “Merriam” and “Webster” are not words, so now I just give up. []


The Present My Sister Made For Me

My sister made this for me for Christmas:

FSM Plate by Nancy

FSM plate, painted by my sister.

FSM Plate by Nancy - back of plate

Back of the FSM plate that was painted for me by my sister. Clearly, she was inspired by His Noodliness.


It’s perfect for eating your pasta on!


My Wise Owl

My office is in a different building than the Director to whom I report.  A little while ago he was in my office building for a meeting and dropped into say hello.  Jokingly, he said that he was going to put on my performance report that I need more artwork on my walls – my office is too bare!  Although I do have some photos on my desk and one piece of art on my bulletin board, the giant wall that my my desk faces was blank as blank can be, so he did kinda have a point.  And so it got me on the look out for artwork.  Now, I have to admit that I’m not much of an art connoisseur – basically, I just look at picture and think, “hey, I like that” or “eww, that’s ugly”1.  But I finally found a piece that I really liked – I actually bought it when I was over on the Island visting Dani:

It’s a print of a commissioned artwork by artist Jason Hunt.  He was selling his work at a farmer’s market that we went to when I was in Victoria and I got a chance to talk to him about the piece.  The image is of an owl (at the top) that is being chased home by the rising sun (bottom). Jason explained to me that in Kwaguilth culture, mice are considered messengers and owls are wise because they “intercept” those messages.  The image really struck me when I saw it and since, in my job , I talk to a lot of people/explore a lot of literature as I conduct evaluations on a variety of different programs and to try to take all these “messages” that I’m “intercepting” and piece them together into a coherent whole – and, as I do this, I’m building up knowledge that I can then impart on my future work – I felt like this was an especially appropriate image for my office.  It reminds me to take good care of the “mice” I’m collecting.  Every evening when I turn off the light in my office at the end of the workday, this piece of artwork makes me smile.

You can learn more about the artist, Jason Hunt, at his website2

  1. my sister got all the visual art genes in our family []
  2. he shares his works in progress on the blog there! []



I seem to have received a heck of a lot of nice presents lately!

First up, this Calathea plant, given to me by the trainees on my last day at my old job. They said it was for my new office! So sweet!

Calathea plant  by you.

That same day my then-boss gave me these roses to thank me for all my work with the program:

Roses by you.

And then, to welcome me to my new job, my new boss gave me this plant for my office:

IMG_4914 by you.

I didn’t know what kind of a plant it was (and nor did my boss), but the interwebs came to the rescue when I posted the pic on Flickr and asked, “what the heck is this?” Turns out, it’s a Kalanchoe. Wish me luck keeping my plants alive, as I totally suck at plant keeping alivery.

And the final gift I’ve received lately, which I’ve also used in decorating of my new office is this:

IMG_4944 by you.

This is a thank you present from the class of grade 3 and 4 students that I spent six Friday mornings teaching science to.  I had soooo much fun teaching those guys – I told them that I would put this up in my office and every time I see it, I will think of them!