Short-Lived Hobbies are my Thing

Sewing, Knitting, Wood-carving, Figure-Drawing…

These are all things I’ve been into sometimes or another and then have let go of a bit (or a lot).
It’s typical for me to do a thing for a while and then move on to a new thing.

Lately, my mind has turned to foraging and, more specifically, mycology.

mushrooms - potter
It started about a month or so ago, when I was preparing for my first ever canoe-camping trip. I wanted to look up the edible foods of the region where Shawn and I were staying and I found a wonderful resource (which I forgot to bookmark and am now worried I’ll never find again) which showed imaged of the mushrooms as well as warnings for similarities to non-edible varieties, and information on their growing conditions, which gives clues for where to look.

And it continued when I successfully identified some mushrooms on a day-trip to Meech, but was still too nervous to do any picking.

And it has been compounded by the amount of money I’ve been spending on chanterelles lately.

AND THEN, I read this article about my favorite author/artist as a child, who was a mycologist herself and  produced illustrations which are still referred to now (she died in 1943) for identification purposes.

So this is my newest interest. I feel like I’ll do some self-guided learning until I’m comfortable enough to go on my own, or maybe I’ll find some kind of Mycology Master to go out a-foraging with.

On this day:

In 2012 – Back in my teenage internet days
In 2008 – Parent-blogging
In 2006 – Book taunt

Things I want to do in the near future

  • pick up the stuff I painted with the kids at the Mud Oven
  • pick up my back-ordered tools from Lee Valley
  • finally finish making that oar!
  • get a copy of a key made
  • everything involved with becoming a real estate baroness
  • everything involved in operating a used bookstore
  • get snowshoes and use them
  • crimp my hair
  • eat a steak with fancy mushrooms and a green vegetable
  • think about meal planning and taking lunches to work
  • organize the fucking contents of our front hall closet WHAT A DISASTER IT IS.

On this day:

in 2014 – this year I read about 1.75 books and most of that was on a nude beach while vacationing so…
in 2013 – my three owl army!
in 2006 – pouring booze all over the table
in 2005 – dog problems

I’m looking.

I’m looking for a word that describes the peace and joy of being in nature.

I’m looking for a word that encompasses the cozy feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket and drinking hot cocoa with a cold nose and fingers from being outdoors.

I’m looking for a word that encapsulates the energetic feeling of being inspired and motivated to create because of being in a new situation.

I’m looking for a word that identifies the yearning to go out into the world to explore and learn.

I’m looking for a word that communicates the sensation of fingers running over perfectly textured paper.

I’m looking for a way to describe the complicity between people and their surroundings and the plants and the animals.

On this day:

In 2013 – sweaty teenage years
In 2006 – injury
In 2005 – photos of childbirth. I don’t even know why I posted this.

Take A Trip – to a cabin on a fowl farm

Good-Bye City

On our way out of town.

She brushed her hand down my neck, pushing down my scarf to reveal as much skin as possible. Then, she quickly  and with minimal pain, pulled the finest filament of hair from my newly exposed flesh.

Looking Forward

This is the story of a couple of wild women on a road trip except we are not Thelma and Louise. We wanted to experience the peace of pastures, and the beauty of the beasts! We wanted to cook and eat simple foods, and hear rain dinging off a tin roof, and flex our creative muscles and commune over sharing our intimate stories. We could save fucking-up the patriarchy and driving to our glorious freedom for another day.

Arrival to the Farm

We found everything we wanted at Mariposa Farm. We parked and unloaded our car, met the manager, and loaded all our supplies in a wagon to wheel with us on a twenty minute hike to the secluded cabin. We got there right at the golden hour and it was so wonderfully perfect.

All our gear, loaded into a wagon

Ok cabin, we are ready for you!

Once we got to the cabin, we knew we were just settling in for the night and getting ready for the next day to come. We laid out all our supplies and arranged them in the Best Spots. We brought the fire to life in the wood stove and  did our best to light the space, and sat down for a relaxing shared meal of olives and spreads and cheeses and wine.

Tapas Dinner

Star Gazing

Once our bellies were full, we stepped out to look at the stars in the partly-overcast night sky. There is a big clearning close to the cabin, and the treeline turned the edge of the sky into a big circle. Some stars shone through the shedding branches and others danced above them, beyond, the clouds hid them from us. We heard an owl and saw a shooting star.

Once we realized the camera wasn’t capturing the beautiful scene set before us, we started playing around with exposure times and movement and turning our bodies to smoke.

Smoke Bodies






The next morning was quiet. Terri resurrected the fire while I woke, and she went back to sleep as I made coffee. I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sound of geese, hunters’ rifles, and leaves falling into their already-landed companions. I brought out some blankets, and my notebook, and my carving tools, then made myself a little cocoon in the hand-crafted Adirondack chair. I wrote and wrote until my fingers were too cold and my heart was too exhausted to carry on. Carving would have to wait until later. These are the things that set my soul at ease. These are the things that move me forward in growth.

Warming up in the morning

Eggs Cumin

Before our trek out to the cabin, we had planned all our meals and divided up responsibilities for the supplies. When we were unpacking the night before, I learned that instead of packing the hollondaise sauce mix as I had intended, I packed a packet of cumin. Even with all the meticulous planning, things don’t always go as expected. This is such a minor gaffe though, the breakfast was still quite good.

Our kitchen set-up was simple. A coleman stove, a pot, a pan, a kettle, and dishes for two. They provided non-potable water and we brought some drinking water, and lots of wine.

Cooking set-up




We finished our breakfast, washed up and got dressed. Our host had stopped by earlier to drop off a few things and told us that he was working on fixing up and older cabin just down the way and invited us to check it out. He told us it was a bit hidden, and it really was. The track seemed to lead to nowhere and we had to search a bit to find the cabin hidden below a little incline.


Time Piece

Broken Mirrors

The Other Cabin

It was a bit smaller than the cabin we were in, but it was easy for me to imagine just how comfortable it would be to stay there. There is something so beautiful about a hand-built shelter that contains just what one needs; heat, water, a bed, a view. Below the cabin was the tree line where the woods became a big open space. I was worried about crossing that threshold, as we had been hearing the sounds of hunting all day and I am a dear but I don’t want to be confused for a deer. Terri was the braver one this time. She had the wonderful idea of collecting various items to make a bouquet representing our walking adventure. I examined the marks left by other creatures and collected fallen birch bark.


Field of Dreaminess

We then decided to go back up the hill and explore some of the groomed paths we saw. They are all named, so it was easy to feel safe in knowing we would not get lost. Left on Suzanne, stop to snuggle some moss and have a leaf-fight, continue along, right on Philippa then back to our cabin to drop off the treasures we collected along the way.

Leaf fight!

Walking in the sky





The clouds were darkening, yet we decided to go back down to the farm and spend some time with the animals before settling back in to our cabin. Just as we made it to the pavilion, it began to drizzle. Around the side was a pond where we noticed a swan. As we approached, it let us know we were in its territory by puffing up its wings and thrusting its chest toward us. As we walked about, the rain started to fall harder and I took cover beneath some trees and we met a cow that thought it was a cat. She kept rubbing up against us and trying to snuggle. I was into it but also worried about the power in the beast. Just a little gentle rub easily pushed me back a step. When the other cow joined us, Terri got in there and some romantic magic happened.

The pavillion

Swan Pond

Milking Barn

Buttercup Head Butt

Terri facilitating a romantic connection




When we got back, we were both a little damp. It was still lightly raining but I was feeling so inspired to paint the scene from our perch. I bundled up in my cozies and hid from the rain as best I could while I started sketching in watercolour pencils. It didn’t take long for the wind to change and blow too much water on my page for me to continue. I came in to find that Terri had just finished preparing lunch.

Painting the view

She set out our bouquet on the table and we sat to eat and talk. It was at this time that I felt a real loosening in my chest. We travel well together. There is the perfect balance of interaction and quiet, of action and repose, of sharing our vulnerabilities and just being a couple of silly-headed ding-dongs.

Lunch chats

Darkness began to fall and I set out all the carving tools. I showed Terri some basic things. There was blood, and we cracked open the first aid kit. Terri pulled up a stool and warmed her feet by the fire while I continued to carve by candle light. I don’t rush. I’ve been working on the same little piece of wood for months. I care more about the meditative process of shaping the wood into my vision than I do for getting it done quickly.

Carving by candlelight

Cutting her hands

Did I mention we brought wine? Oh yes we did and on this night we made sure we wouldn’t need to carry any of it back with us. We roasted marshmallows in the wood stove. We painted in the dark, which is less dangerous than carving in the dark but just as difficult. We talked about the ways we like to be creative, our strengths and weaknesses, our processes and our goals. When we found our commonalities and complimentary skills, we became quite excited and developed some shared goals. This breathes life into my soul! Shared projects are great for me because it necessitates complicity and trust and mutual motivation. This is what I seek to have with the people who are close to me.

Asparagus Mustachio and Wine Guzzling

As darkness brought us into sleep, rain was making music on the tin roof. I felt so cozy and insulated in this hide-out.



The next morning, we knew our time was up. As we ate our last shared meal, we coordinated tasks and planned our exit from this dream. Terri had a heavy heart already, while I was feeling excitement over how full my heart became over these days and about the process of bringing all that I had gained from this experience into my day-to-day life. I also felt pressured and motivated to finish my painting before leaving! I went outside and worked on finishing it up. I was very happy with the results.

The Last Breakfast


The Wood Pile

Tin Roof

Limbless Love

During our time in the cabin, I looked at wine stains, and a forgotten chain necklace and thought about how each person who had stayed there had left some kind of mark, even if I was not aware of it. I thought about what we might leave there, wax drippings from our candles, a box of matches, a roll of purple duct tape we brought along in case our water jug continued to leak. A place like this evolves and grows because of the people who breathe life into it. I hope that we made it just a tiny bit better for the next one(s) there.

Loosie Goosie




Just before leaving, we went in to check out the restaurant and the farm store. We weren’t able to stay for lunch this time (but are planning to go back for it soon) but the way they displayed their menu had us salivating. I also picked up a variety of fowl to enjoy in the near future and have greatly enjoyed what I’ve eaten so far.

Visual Menu 1

Visual Menu 2

Visual Menu 3

Farm Store Purchases




So long!

This experience will be tough to beat. The whole place is charming, and cozy. The people we encountered were nothing short of wonderful. We created magical moments for ourselves and filled our hearts with the warmth of a thousand wood-stove fires.

My finished painting





*the vast majority of these photos are by Terri Figueiredo

On this day:

In 2012 – my evolution in figure drawing
In 2008 – musing about make-up
In 2007 – food challenges
In 2006 – photos from disposable cameras
In 2005 – a list! I love making lists!

Paddle Splash Yay!

I’ve been making it through my life list items at a pretty good pace. I think I need to revisit and edit the list. Some things are pretty vague and like, I don’t even know how to accomplish them. For example “Allow myself to be reckless” . That is not a tangible thing I can do to check off my list, so I’ll need to think of actual things I can do to accomplish my goals and make some amendments.

All this to say that another life-list item has been accomplished!

18. Go canoeing

The weather has been beautiful lately and the kids have really been enjoying the time we’ve spent at Meech Lake. I had been thinking about renting a canoe and taking them out and thanks to Elizabeth I learned that MEC has really well-priced rentals that include all the needed gear. (Honestly – so fabulous, I really recommend renting any gear you need from them). We picked up our canoe and gear the evening before our rental and had a fun time driving home with a canoe on our car.

The next morning, we packed up our supplies and headed for a short drive to the lake and to our first family paddling adventure! I had canoed only very little and this was just a nice introductory trip for me. The kids did not have paddles of their own, which was probably a good thing, but Bobby did say he wants to paddle with Shawn next time.

As we loaded the car, the kids pretended to drive.

As we loaded the car, the kids pretended to drive.

The next morning, we packed up our supplies and headed for a short drive to the lake and to our first family paddling adventure! I had canoed only very little and this was just a nice introductory trip for me. The kids did not have paddles of their own, which was probably a good thing, but Bobby did say he wants to paddle with Shawn next time.

about to head out on the lake

Bobby and Molly, just before getting into the canoe.

Bobby was almost immediately comfortable. It took Molly a while to get used to the motions of the boat and how people’s movements affected it. While we paddled we saw people at their cottages, excited dogs and a really huge snake sunning on someone’s dock. As we were rounding a point to go take our first land-break, we happened across two young bucks having a drink.

oh dear

This is as close as we got before they moved back under the cover of trees. As we moved away, they came back to the water.

We stopped the canoe at the mouth of an inlet, through which we would need to do a small portage. We took out our gear and set up for a picnic.

We met this frog-friend while setting up our picnic.

We met this frog-friend while setting up our picnic.

A little dog was playing in the water near to us and Molly decided that she was a Water Dog and ran along the dog's route, and chatted with the dog's people.

A little dog was playing in the water near to us and Molly decided that she was a Water Dog and ran along the dog’s route, and chatted with the dog’s people.

We got into the inlet and paddled to our usual spot at Meech. We unsuccessfully set up a fort to keep the spiders and ants off us, we swam in the pond, learned about pooping in the woods, and had a snuggle on our picnic blanket before heading back to our starting point.

By the time we were halfway back, the kids were so tired/comfortable in the canoe, that they just fell right asleep.

I got to take a paddle break while The Motor was still paddling.

I got to take a paddle break while The Motor was still paddling.

I love the combination of quiet peacefulness, beautiful nature, physical activity, and teamwork that this little day trip involved. We decided to stop at the Chelsea Pub for dinner and it was the perfect spots for all of us to sit outside and enjoy nice food and company, and for some of us to get our sillies out.

I think this has been the real big spark in my want to do more camping and do some canoe camping and oh my goodness this plus my bike hoarding habit will be A Problem.

On this day:

In 2013 – oh yes yes yes
In 2011 – I got a beautiful bike – our time together was too short
In 2007 – I need to remember to use chipotle in my cooking more often.
In 2006 – I met my uncle for the first time

A peek at some of my baggage.

You know the people you see who get emotional in public? I don’t mean the ones who are just yelling and being a nuisance. I mean, the people who are having difficult conversations and are crying and they just do that. In public. Like that’s just perfectly normal.

I always felt like it really wasn’t normal and that it was probably one of the worst things one could do. It felt like something I could just never do. I didn’t think poorly of the people who did this. I thought they were magical beings. I thought it was so beautiful that they could just emote so much and relate so deeply with another person while in a public setting. That was so far from how I felt I could ever be.

Today, Shawn and I had a conflict and I had some very strong feelings about the situation. He met me at work and we went outside and were walking through the campus and I let out my anger and frustration and disappointment and of course it all came out with a stream of tears and any person, even my coworkers, could see me. It didn’t matter. Two years ago, that would have stifled me and I would have carried that entire flood within me until an ‘appropriate’ private moment would present itself.

It felt so empowering to be able to connect with the person I was with and express myself fully, right in the moment of feeling it, with no concern about other people. This is big for me.

I can see that I have a journey before me and that it’s about getting right to this place with people in a consistent way.

bike love

So much of my brain activity is taken up by bikes lately.

In mid-May my bike got stolen from my back yard. I was so very crushed. I had just fallen back in love with my bike after having used my mom’s for a couple days and I had been biking all over the place and it was so sad. I had filed a police report and looked on the used stuff websites diligently to try and locate it. It was unsuccessful.

I spent a few hours researching my dream bike.

-a step-though frame
-something light and agile
-a body that wouldn’t disintegrate in this climate
-a rack on the back

There were a couple models in which I was interested and I went to a couple shops and there was only one of the ones I liked in stock anywhere and I fell in love with it during my test ride.

It’s a new Canadian brand, Simcoe. I am totally smitten.

simcoe full




simcoe frame text


Whenever I can (meaning I don’t have to ferry the kids somewhere by car, or it’s not raining) I am getting around by bike. I have big plans to use the trailer to bring the kids to summer camp and to basically ditch my car as much as possible. This bike rolls forever and ever once it has some momentum and it shifts so smoothly and is basically made of joy.


I’ve been taking a course on basic bike mechanics at the Bike Co-op on campus. It’s a free series of workshops and if I attend all of them I get some certification afterward. I’ve already completed 2 out of 5 sessions and they run every two weeks. During the most recent workshop, I was speaking with the coordinator and he has been looking for somebody to take charge of running one night a month dedicated to women and queers and trans people who would otherwise feel uncomfortable in the space (it has a dudely culture) and I promptly and enthusiastically volunteered (along with two other rad women).


Bike-Curious Gender Fender! – Introducing: Women and Queer Night! 

The second Monday of every month 5pm-8pm will now be Women and Queer Bike Night at the SFUO Bike Co-op!

Women-identified and queer folk have often felt less welcome in a repair shop settings due to shops being traditionally heteronormative male dominated spaces. This may deter these folks from learning bike maintenance or even from coming in to the Co-op due to past experiences or social precedents. SO let’s try to break down those barriers and provide a safe space to ask questions, receive instruction, and become oriented with the shop – all with the facilitation of women and queer identified volunteers.

Each evening will start with a brief introduction to the Co-op for newcomers, a short tutorial on a different aspect of bicycle repair and maintenance, but will mainly be a drop-in space to work on and repair your bike – with the help of wonderful facilitators.

Bring: Your bicycle and your amazing self! If you do not have a bike, feel free to come and participate and learn!

Cost: FREE! We will even provide snacks and all the coffee/tea that you desire!


I’m so excited about this!

Firstly because it’s going to essentially be an exercise in group learning. I’m not an expert but I know some things, and I know how to use the reference material as well as how to locate all the tools and parts in the shop.

Secondly because I love working with my hands and with tools and I will feel such pride and accomplishment for the work that I get done as well as for the work I help others achieve.

Thirdly because I love it when power, knowledge and opportunity are given to those who are not typically the recipients. Women* are not typically welcome (as a social convention if not explicitly stated) in spaces where manual labour is done, and are often left to have men do the fixing for them. This gives them the power and knowledge to take care of their own bikes and the opportunity to be comfortable with the space, in a safe environment. It’s my hope that that comforts translates to more women* being present and making use of the space during the regular shop hours, so the overall culture becomes more inclusive.

Yay biking and fixing bikes and facilitating the learning of bike mechanics!!!


On this day:

in 2013 – the things I do that make me happy
in 2012 – the result of Brent snooping through all my stuff and the introduction of my Life List
in 2010 – light yogurt is basically jizz
in 2009 – rubella
in 2008 – baby shower
in 2007 – We want a goalie not a macaroni!
in 2006 – moving is no fun – except for the fun parts