What do you prefer while on vacation? To Explore or to Rest?

cutting the map

My struggle today: wondering whether the lovely views of Tianshan Tianchi (Xinjiang Heavenly Lake) is worth the 3+3hr return bus trip. The alternative is to essentially rot in bed in the nice hotel I booked myself into at the end of my trip.

Which do you prefer while on holiday? To explore the area you’re at, or take a good long break?

I know the ideal answer is, of course, to do both but unfortunately, that is rather difficult to achieve. The tendency is to make the most of wherever one is at. Opportunity cost, my friend. After all, with the world so huge, there is little incentive to return to a place one has been. (I make an exception for London. Somehow…that place is intoxicating)

This has been my struggle for a couple of holidays now, and I expect many people feel the same way. How many times have…

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What a Birthday Should Look Like

We just celebrated my son’s ninth birthday. If you had asked me ten years ago what my future son’s ninth birthday would look like, I might have described the perfect summer pool party. Something rambunctious and loud and perfectly planned. Water balloons and canon ball contests and twenty sun-kissed kids clamoring around a cake shaped like a surfboard. Hot dogs and music and grown up drinks in red plastic cups for the adults.

Guess whose ninth birthday looked absolutely nothing like that.

This is what we do, we special needs parents. We compare what we think a childhood should look like to what our kid’s experience actually is. I play this game a lot, and it’s like Tic Tac Toe. Nobody wins.

This birthday, I stopped myself from creating a day I thought my son should want. I didn’t plan a thing. There were no invitations and no guests. I…

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Chef Portraits: Kyle Proulx

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with and shoot the second member of the Bytown Chefs Collective (BCC), Kyle Proulx, Head Chef at Lowertown Brewery.

kyle proulx

I met up with Kyle at his new restaurant, Lowertown Brewery, in the uber-busy Byward Market in downtown Ottawa. Lowertown Brewery is the latest addition to the Ontario craft beer scene, which has really become a major part of Ottawa. Literally working around the corner from his friend and Bytown Chefs Collective partner Paul Dubeau (my first shoot in the series), Kyle’s restaurant and working style posed a stark contrast to Paul’s, which I think (and hope) help makes this series an interesting one.

untitled-366

In my first shoot at Stella, Paul’s kitchen was exactly what I imagined a restaurant kitchen to be – compact; efficient; hidden from view; and with the head chef at the centre of the action…

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God’s gender: a cautionary tale

... because God is love

Is God a man?

Is God a woman?

Does it really matter?

These and similar questions seem to be doing the rounds again, on social media and elsewhere. My answers, in brief, would be “No”, “No”, and “Yes, very much.”

Why does it matter so much? Why does it matter what language we use about God, what pronouns and names and titles we use to address and describe God?

Let me tell you a story.

You know those arguments children have which go “boys are better than girls”, “no, girls are better than boys”, “no, boys are better than girls”, on and on and on? They’re especially annoying on long car journeys or in waiting rooms.

A while back, two of the children I work with, then aged about 5, were having just such an argument. I wan’t paying much attention, just keeping half an eye on things in case…

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A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

talkingthisandthat

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

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Serial kid-producer reveals top 10 reasons not to have kids

Barb Taub

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

imgresI was lying awake last night, trying to memorize the feeling of everything being right with my family. We’re all healthy, happy, and remarkably satisfied with where we are in life at this exact moment. Even Child #4 has just taken her last ever Uni final, and pronounced herself ready to go off the family payroll.

A friend asked if I ever regretted having so many kids, or the time/money/everything that it took to raise them. She said her book club (having dispensed with the required 8.5 minutes of book-related discussion) were all talking about the reasons their grown children were not producing grandchildren.

That reminded me of this blast-from-the-past I wrote a few years ago.


Top 10 reasons not to have kids

There are actually LOTS of reasons not to have kids. As a serial kid-producer, I offer a revised list:

10. Vermin =…

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Lace

a natural resources

Sarah Ditum

lace

I learned to make lace when I was small, solemnly winding my bobbins with white thread then working over the pillow with deepest concentration – twisting and crossing the splints of wood, carefully weighted with scavenged beads, never learning so well that my hands could work without stumbling, but working all the same. I made my first few pieces, slack-tensioned and a little sloppy. My older female relatives and family friends inspected them indulgently but unimpressed. They were Bedfordshire women who had learned the needle arts at school, women who had been educated for domesticity, women who could not believe that I would leave school at 16 unable to knit, sew or make pastry. “I could make this,” my grandma would say, plucking the unhappy hems of my Topshop jumpers. “Didn’t they teach you anything?”

Their lives didn’t stop at what their education had fitted them for, though, because this…

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Confessions from a Cul-de-Sac.

At the Helm of the Public Realm: An Urban Design Blog

My very own cul-de-sac. My very own cul-de-sac.

Three months ago my family and I moved into our first home. Something about buying a house makes you feel like a real bonafide adult. And with that comes real adult decisions. We moved to Charlotte from Tampa in January and when my husband and I were deciding where in the city we wanted to live, we like many young families, fell into the trap that is holding back so many of our cities: providing our child with a good education.

Like so many other cities in America, in Charlotte you can find the public schools with the highest test scores in the suburbs. Decades and decades of socio-economic trends, not to mention racism and segregation, are the major cause of this divide – in fact, that could be a blog post all on its own. Of course many will tell you test scores…

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