Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaBloPoMo to the end - and here's inktober

you name it, I inked it! #inktober
This month I have NaBloPoMo'd - last month I inktobered.
Both have been awesome creative projects - October's switched up my creative juices and got me through the stress of moving; this month's got me back in touch with my inner bloggess. OK some posts have been pictures only, but I've posted every single day.
What will I do for December? Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

sunday scribbles, on saturday

a writing assignment from last week, still to be published
A day early, but here goes.

Friday, November 28, 2014

friday forte: sally forth

artist, and oneself as artist - installation at SFU Woodwards building downtown - lots to think about
Living life with forte, with gusto - from yesterday's slightly pointed post, let's move on to how I plan to move on. I find that my housemates' motivationless inertia really saps my energy as I'm not really too great at staying still in one place satisfied.
Maybe it's a skill I should cultivate, but I'm also damn sure I don't want to miss out any more on all the living I still feel I have inside me.
So rather than look back with regret on all the movies, concerts, friends, events and so on that I have missed out on, through the inevitable waiting that comes from being a wife and a mother, I should seize the day myself and get on with simply getting on.
I've already established that some of the things I value about life are not shared by my housemates. So if I choose to pursue them, I'm not depriving them of a cherished experience though I'm sure they'll miss my ever-present concierge and scheduling services.
I really don't want to wait any longer to get on with life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

spt 27nov14: ding dong the witch is very much alive and kicking

these toes were made for tapping in frustration
So easy to fit in with the wicked witch persona these days, especially as the mum in the house.
Move the books!
Tidy your room!
Take out the recycling!
Don't forget to x, y, z and then back to abc again ..."

and so on.
Picking Domestic Project Manager for myself was not something on my list way back in those "heady" days of new relationship bliss.
But it happened anyway.

Why does it take oversight and a bucketful of nagging to get anything done around here, I wondered to myself.
How do I motivate my housemates into picking up some slack? into thinking domestically so we can all benefit?

Motivation is key to most human endeavour - it gives the goal, spurs us on, makes achieving something pleasurable ... at least, that's what I thought. But I could not pin it down for mr ebb or the Wee Guy. What makes them do something, anything?
I thought, deep and long.

Well ... it isn't pleasure at getting a task completed.
It isn't the pride in doing something or improving.
It has very little to do with other people.
It's nothing to do with the thrill of new experiences.

Both of them are lucky souls - quite happy to exist in the moment, despite surroundings, mess, hunger, the potential for improvement, another's displeasure, inconvenience ... seemingly unmotivated until some hidden urge is tapped. In some ways, I'm quite envious but I'm also fed up with being the Domestic Project Manager. And I couldn't cope with living in squalor or never going anywhere.

And then I remembered - the only thing that will get these two off their butts and into action is a serious threat to their own personal comfort.

For example, the Wee Guy will clean his room if threatened with the contents leaving the house in a garbage bag.
An electronics ban (prolonged) brings out compliance.
mr ebb only made efforts to deal with some fairly reasonable requests when I threatened to leave him home alone with the Wee Guy for a month, when I refused to play Mirena-roulette at the end of its reliable lifespan (woohoo Dr. Pollock!) and yes, when I mentioned the D word.
Yes, that.

So OK, I've used up all my motivational angles.
What next?
Should I just accept that it just matters to me, and get the hell on with my life regardless?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

wordless wednesday: shadowbush, the leaf raker

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

temp garden - a photo essay: getting ready to move on

This amazing garden is mine for only a few more weeks. And then I'll be getting another but permanent plot to call my own.

The garden I have right now stretches down from the front of the house, round the side over a plush velvet lawn of moss and grass, down flagged pathways to the labyrinth and garage at the back lane.

There's a hug fir tree at the edge by the lane. We're keeping our car there right now - after storms, if I want to drive the car, I need to spend several minutes brushing needles off the windscreen.

Two squirrels fight over the garage roof and up the fir tree, disturbing the magnificent blue jay and the crow.

Two fruit trees press up against the verandah outside the kitchen windows. Covered in moss, they are playgrounds for the tiny chickadees as they hunt for bugs.

And you know about the labyrinth.

The fuschia bent to the frost, but these might be winter blooms about to burst.

I'm not sure if the tree near the front door is dead or not. Are those catalpa pods, or is it the fruit of the vine rambling, strangling up its trunk? I should take a stroll past the house in the spring to find out more.

I will miss this garden when we leave. Though it's essentially dormant right now, it has been a beautiful space to explore. I shall miss this place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

midlife monday: time in motion - time and motion

the daily pussy: bathtime
having the cat clean the bath helps with the chores
Time just vanishes.
I look back at my day and wonder why I didn't achieve more. Where did the productivity go, and how much did I earn? Why don't I feel more accomplished? What do I have to show for my day?

Today I kept a record - time, motion, tasks, much Facebook?

In terms of hours billable = 115 minutes
In terms of non-billable work = 120 minutes (though some of this will eventually convert)
In terms of tasks completed = 4
In terms of dollars earned = almost on track for my daily rate
But in terms of hours available = 7.5

But if I look at what I did do today, it might not be so bad.
In addition to almost earning my target daily rate, I also baked bread, managed about 30 minutes of volunteer work (mostly social media sharing), put out the recycling, presudaded the Neato/Roomba to wheeze around the house without getting lost, tackled some homework, checked in with the Realtor, popped in to the local bike shop to order panniers and rack for my own bike, and a widget or whatever for the Wee Guy's, caught up on correspondence, arranged a furnace service, restocked groceries, completed preliminary reading for three projects and browsed through some more science news, picked up the Wee Guy from school, baked muffins, made dinner and watched an episode of Dr. Who with the boys.

Keeping an eye on tasks done through the day, I noticed the following:
  • Around lunchtime I'm at my least creative and most likely to drift off into the blogosphere (where I read science news, catch up with friends, find interesting things to share ...). Although I tend to get the automatic jobs done first thing, maybe it would be better to tackle these during the midday slump.
  • Would assigning a dollar value to the non-billables like research, preliminary reading motivate me more? 
  • Domestic tasks tend to scatter throughout my working day - they are disruptive, and I should corral them into a defined day/hour. This is a danger of working from home I guess. Would it be better for me to step outside, work somewhere else if I feel too distracted?
One freelancer I heard presenting at a conference warned not to expect to bill for every single available hour - it was more likely to be half, and therefore adjust your rates accordingly.
If that's true, then today I was right on track.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

sunday scribbles

This week's writing revealed!

  • Only one piece of science copywriting: using a new workflow to characterise a common post-translational protein modification, phosphorylation, in the search for new ideas in pancreatic cancer in Pancreatic Cancer Phosphorylome and Potential Drug Networks. Looking at how cancer alters the basic shapes of cell proteins can hold a key to novel treatments, or give new biomarkers for earlier detection.
  • Not really writing, but more marketing - the Blackberry Artist's Christmas Marketplace is now open for your gifting pleasure until December 21st.
  • A brief post on how much the Philae landing and subsequent shutdown affected a bunch of hardened science communicators - Lost in Space #philae
Happy reading!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


A recent flurry of news on a study out of Harvard had me nodding my head in agreement this week. The research, which surveyed Harvard business grads, found that it wasn't kids and family matters that derailed women in forging ahead with career advancement - well, not directly.
No, the real culprits were the women's partners, thus proving the old advice to career-minded women to marry down if they expected to get ahead professionally.
There are certainly still enough barriers to women achieving work-wise - the #shirtstorm debacle summed most of these up in a nutshell, without even touching on the mummy track, the mummy penalty and all the special penalties due post-baby.
Being at the frontline of trying to create some kind of career in, around and in spite of my family, I can certainly vouch for the partner obstacle theory. And it's not done deliberately from what I can see - it's pure ignorance, rather like hapless Matt Taylor and that bloody awful shirt. There just isn't a clue.
While Dr. Taylor should have been a little ore self-aware on his choice of clothing, I'm not heaping 100% blame on my obstructing partner - his failure is mostly ignorance thought I suspect it's wrapped up in a good dose of higher earning power compared with my paltry work-from-home hourly rate (which I happen to think is pretty damn good btw - I'm very proud of getting here and I love my work).
The ignorance is cultural, and it manifests as extreme obliviousness to all matters domestic. I'm not going to even try to list the niggles, but suffice to say, initiative is seldom taken and I'm blown away by how little her considers. Again - not totally his fault as I don't think many men are wired to think domestically. I sort of guessed it would be difficult for him with me moving back into paid work since it would mean that technically I wouldn't be so available to manage the domestic/childcare duties ... or at least I naively thought that we would move into a more equal arrangement ....
OK - I've certainly made things easy by picking up the slack on groceries, meal planning, childcare, the school run, school admin, scheduling, housework, organising leisure activities and dates, laundry, household maintenance ... wait! this wasn't going to be a list.
It wasn't until we went through the selling process and the renting process and the packing to move process that I realised what a craply disproportionate load of the whole affair I was shouldering (I think I gave a blast of it on the blog at rock-bottom).
The problem with shouldering the domestic load is that it is energy-draining, mundane and monotonous - there's no respite, it is time-consuming, and it is not that rewarding. The rewarding stuff should be spending time with the Wee Guy, my work, being creative.
I should have enough energy to build on my fledgling career, tiny and limited though it is, there is real potential for it to grow into something intensely rewarding for the long term.
I should have energy and feel energised to appreciate time I do spend with my son, rather than have half an eye on a work assignment, finish off the housework while he does homework, or otherwise be so distracted when he's around.
I should feel that the parenting and the domestic stuff and the household income earning is being managed equally, instead of lopsidedly biased in terms of an hourly rate lording over actual hours spent.
I should have energy for leisure time - damn, I should have leisure time period. I keep mumbling vaguely about getting more exercise - it never happens.
What I shouldn't be feeling is constantly overwhelmed, snappy and exhausted.
I have cut so much out of my life to make time already that this is now all I'm down to. But maybe I should give up the work and the art, to concentrate on the domestic - it would certainly free up some time. I could ask for more help (again) - I could nag. I could instruct, draw up lists, project manage ...
But is that really all I'm here for? This is the 21st century after all and we are grown ups.

Friday, November 21, 2014

friday forte: and on to new worlds?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

spt20nov14: let christmas commence

where's Waldo Amanda?
Since I finished a huge whack of my college assignment last night, burning the midnight oil just a tad, I rewarded myself by going out this evening. Christmas Marketplace opened at the arts centre - ahem, the 18th annual Blackberry Artist's Society Christmas Marketplace to be specific.
It's a Christmas tradition in the Tri Cities, and one that I'm very lucky to sell at, since I am a member of the aforementioned artist society.

This year is our first selling out of the new shop space. It's a bright and airy space at the front of the arts centre facing onto St. Johns Street. There's more wall space for the visual artists and some central display space for larger pieces. It's usually pretty zen in there, but this evening - standing room only, and not for too long. Works were flying off the shelves!

This year, since mr ebb, the Wee Guy and I are in the middle of two moves, I don't have a huge amount of inventory in the marketplace right now. I have enough to "pay my way" but of course I'd like there to be more.

The society is more than just retail space though - it's a community too. We're a small group but oh so talented! At meetings and opening receptions such as this evenings, I'm surrounded by a very creative, friendly and supportive bunch of people.

Thirteen years ago, when mr ebb and I left the UK and moved to Vancouver, I lost my community, leaving friends and work colleagues back in London. I did it again when we moved to Port Moody nine years ago, losing contact with a lot of the new network I'd worked so hard to create on immigration here.

And this year, I nearly did it again. We were seriously considering moving back to Vancouver, for big city/small housing life. It nearly happened peeps! *gives self smack upside head*
This time, this move, I realised that for once I will not be giving up my network and won't face starting all over again.
I have my network right here and I'm staying. No hunting for a new grocery store or doctor.
I have my community - they are my knitting pals, the Blackberry artists, shop owners I say hi to, friends I leave my dying plants with, friends I bump into at events around the city, businesses I've interviewed and reviewed, the post office clerk who knows who I am when I turn up for parcels, ...
This is where I am me, and I'm not leaving.

... and i promise i will collect the plants ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

wordless wednesday: silhouettes

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 random things

Adventures in SEO: tits on the roof

So I've been tagged, by the awesome but currently unemployed (srsly???) Tracy at FashionForward40 to come up with five random facts about myself.
Is there anything about me you haven't already heard, or is just the randomness that makes it all good?
Here goes: -

1. For our 21st wedding anniversary, my husband and I celebrated with dinner at IKEA
This is a recent event so you probably know this already. It was an amazing meal, not a culinary highlight, but the event itself is special enough. It's the kind of celebration that only comes from knowing someone and being in love with them for more than two decades. It's a comfort thing, and not something that is readily celebrated in today's throw away, if it doesn't-work-then-leave culture. We've had our ups and downs; we'll never know if starting afresh with someone new would have been better, but right now - we're making it work, and enjoying each other as we get wrinklier, less flexible and harder to maintain!

2. I made some jewelry at the weekend. Not earthshattering as a random fact, but to me it's a big deal. I've been painting, doodling, writing for the last year or so but no jewlry for a while. Good timing too cos it's all for sale at the Blackberry Artist's Society 18th Annual Christmas Marketplace opening at Port Moody Arts Centre this Thursday evening! Expect some big earrings soon :)

3. At the end of my pregnancy (one of the three times I have been pregnant, and yes I only have one son), I weighed more than my husband. He's almost six feet tall and I'm a mere 5'3" ... I ate very well and delivered a basketball.

4.  I got called a histrionic cunt for sharing a post about #shirtgate this week - the trolls are definitely out there - aren't you boys?

5. My next paid writing gig involves long term storage of frozen urine.

And that is all

Monday, November 17, 2014

midlife monday: take your kid to work evening

The evening shift - not just tucking them in, reading a book, then checking for monsters under the bed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

sunday scribbles

... and don't forget, Christmas Marketplace starts on Thursday evening!
All your gifting needs, from local artisans under one roof :)

What I've been writing about this week, or at least the stuff that has been published ...

This last week I have mostly been published in science!

Happy reading :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

day after

view along to the polling station entrance
With thanks to the Pankhursts, Emily Wilding Davison and all who paved the way.

Friday, November 14, 2014

friday forte: and onwards #pomovotes14

expanded? my ass - this park is way too f*cking small for Golden Spike even these days
Tomorrow is election day in the fair city of Port Moody, and it's one of the bitchiest election campaigns I've been aware of since moving here. The claws are out and the teeth are bared. It's drawn along the lines of "we know better than you", and "you're all idiots for questioning us", "how dare you ask for details!" and "if you don't understand, then stop bothering us".
Those that are concerned are being painted as scare-mongers, upstarts, and scam artists.
Those who are not concerned are campaigning on the "same old, same old, vote for me - vote for consistency" platform.

In debating,who could speak loudest, longest, without needing to draw a breath was the victor?
Even a cute video wandered into the electioneering - though I'm still not quite sure how relevant the teletubbies are, but that's politics round here.

It's interesting.
The ones asking the questions are the new crowd, the people who have not been in power for year after year.
The ones taking umbrage are the people who have been around a while and now feel scrutinised by all the questions - of course they're feeling pressured. Wouldn't you?

Ho hum!
So tomorrow I'll exercise my right to vote.
And then wait for the results.

But whoever it is who wins at tomorrow evening's count should really be asking - why were so many people concerned? why so many questions about a community plan that is apparently done and dusted? and perfect?
What was so bad with communication with the residents, forcing a great more than ten people to voice their unease? What went wrong? and what is still going wrong?
And how can you now help get the messages across effectively, between city hall and the populace? without making them feel stupid or troublesome for asking?

/political message - normal service is resumed

spt13nov14: no, really!

this was yesterday's post, posted in good time using IFTTT which flickr then chose to ignore ...
le sigh

No, really. We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary by going out for a family dinner at our local IKEA. We had wine - shared a bottle of white between the two of us. Yes the small single serving size. Then I went to college for my exam. Earlier, a beautiful vase of flowers was delivered to the house. After mr ebb phoned to check I was at home. Last night we had a sort of row, a disagreement, about parenting. We're still a bit stressed with the move. He gave me a card. I haven't bought one. So I painted one. I don't have his present yet , but it's coming soon. 21 years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

wordless wednesday: my old neighbourhood

Tuesday, November 11, 2014



Lest we forget.

Monday, November 10, 2014

midlife monday: what it's all about

Sunday, November 09, 2014

sunday scribbles: a weekly round up

the writing's on the window

what i've been writing and where it was published this last week ...

Saturday, November 08, 2014

radioactivity, accidents and marie curie

scientist sketch
digital sketch: afmaxwell

Yesterday was Marie Curie's birthday. She remains one of the most notable women in science for the work she did on radioactivity with her husband, Pierre alongside. She was the scientist who formulated the theory on which the work was based; he gave up his own research because her ideas intrigued him.
One of this week's writing assignments is a post published for Talk Science To Me yesterday - The Benefit of Accident and Coincidence in Radioactivity.
Coincidently, at about the time that Roentgen was experimenting on his spouse, the 28-year-old Curie was embarking on her doctoral studies in Paris. Inspired by Roentgen and Becquerel, Curie decided to study uranium and its strange electromagnetic rays. Along with her spouse, Pierre, she characterized uranium’s properties and isolated two new elements, radium and polonium, which gave off these mysterious rays. Creating the term “radioactivity” to describe what she was seeing, Curie hypothesized that the rays were due to events happening at the atomic level, challenging the prevailing notion of the indivisible atom.
Read more here ...

Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday night with Kristian and Shannon at Inlet Theatre #portmoody :)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

spt6nov14: at my feet

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

wordless wednesday: to and fro wobbly pussy

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

elsewhere, in the blogosphere

This published today - one of my paid gigs, writing for a science company. It's for a food safety blog and deals with equipment designed for testing protocols. Interesting stuff.

Monday, November 03, 2014

knackered, but not up there

view back up the mountain (where we used to live)

Rainfall warning for this area, and oh boy is the stuff coming down. I snapped the photo above as I waited for the Wee Guy. The mountain where we used to live is blanketed in cloud. Sometimes it can be above the cloud, in glorious alpine sunshine but I suspect not today.
Do I miss living up there?
I miss the view.
I miss the eye level feeling of being with the clouds.
But no, tired as I am from not being home yet, I do not miss being up there.
Today we went places, and did not move the car.
We went everywhere by foot, soaked and puddle-jumping but on foot.
This weekend, we cycled to the library. The next day we walked from front door to Rec Centre Farmers Market and back again. No gas guzzled; no carbon emitted (except our own).
For Friday's trick or treat, we walked a neighbourhood - front yards, front doors, lanes, sidewalks, pumpkins, neighbours - we did not miss the garages, the strata, the conjoined dwellings.
While I loved living and growing in our old house, the time has come to move on ... and even though we're not quite there yet, I'm glad we did.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

one foot and then the other

One week and two weekends. Boxes unpacked, minimalism in full swing. Enjoying a borrowed house, a borrowed neighbourhood. Pinching myself that life is good and I have much to be thankful for.
Setting one foot in front of the other to keep going forward - such a delight these days.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

saturday scenes: morning, after

One week in our borrowed house. Griz has learned where to watch for teh birds. I've found where the morning sun pools. We've finally located the measuring cups I unpacked into one of the roomy kitchen's cupboards. Life has slowed considerably compared with the last few months and we feel at home. Even if it's only temporary. There are tissues on the table from last night's saxophone practice (yes, the tearful phase of learning an instrument). The cat has a new hiding place she runs to from visitors. My workspace is set up and I've started on my Christmas inventory in addition to competing my writing projects. mr ebb is enjoying a shorter commute. Life, my readers, feels good. Hoping all is well with you too. xoxo

throwback 2 years: One week in our borrowed house. Griz has learned where to watch for teh birds.

One week in our borrowed house. Griz has learned where to watch for teh birds. I've found where the morning sun pools. We've finally located the measuring cups I unpacked into one of the roomy kitchen's cupboards. Life has slowed considerably compared with the last few months and we feel at home. Even if it's only temporary. There are you tissues on the table from last night's saxophone practice (yes, the tearful phase of learning an instrument). The cat has a new hiding place she runs to from visitors. My workspace is set up and I've started on my Christmas inventory in addition to competing my writing projects. mr ebb is enjoying a shorter commute. Life, my readers, feels good. Hoping all is well with you too. xoxo

ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!