Saturday, May 24, 2014

CBC Calgary Reads Book Sale 2014

My mother is going to kill me when she reads this post.

A constant theme on this blog is that 'I have a thing for books'. Like a serious love affair. Some people might even say a hoarder like tendency. But I just can't get enough of them. Reading them and buying them. Since moving to Calgary, with about 6 boxes full of books, my collection has grown to well over 300, of which I'd guess I've read 95%. Last night I even took the time to begin to log all my books into Good Reads.

This morning, before 10AM I added another 25 books to that collection. Going to the CBC Calgary Reads Book Sale may have been a bad life choice.

So while I may now be drowning under a pile of books to read this summer (did I say drowning, because I really can't think of anything I'd enjoy more), I'm going to have to insist you get yourself down to the book sale and indulge yourself. All the while supporting a good cause.


Where: Calgary Curling Club 720 3ST NW
When: Today May 24 until midnight
What: Pretty much all the books.
How Much: $3 hard covers and $2 soft covers. Plus $2 admission.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My new computer chair

Since I moved into my apartment (some 2 and a half years ago) I'd been using one of my dining table chairs as a computer chair in my room. Carrying it to and from every time I had people over. Eventually, I claimed, I would pick up a chair intended for my desk.

Turns out I'd rather upcycle one.

I picked up this old school looking chair in the free stuff area in the lobby of my building about 8 months back, with the intention of painting it and recovering it.

Originally the intent was to wait until summer so I could sand and paint the chair outside. Instead I opted for a drop cloth in my living room and a glass of wine.

Step 1: Pull of the seat, and toss the old fabric and foam (which was crumbling to the touch).

 Step 2: Elbow grease and sand paper. Make sure you have some good tunes playing.

Step 3: wash and dry, all that sanding grit needs to some off before the paint can go on.

Step 4: Paint, pictured above is the chair after 1 coat. Looks pretty thin and uneven. I opted to do 3 full coats, drying the chair for a couple hours in between (if you don't live in super dry Alberta, you might want to wait overnight in between coats.)

Step 5: Recover the seat. Essentially the seats on these chairs are just a board, some foam and a piece of fabric. The foam and the fabric (a half yard is more than enough) came from Fabricland. I spray glued the foam in place, the stretched the fabric on and stapled it in place underneath (no sewing required).

Over all the project was pretty easy, and cost me about $30 for painting supplies, the foam and the fabric. And left me wishing two things:

1) that I had grabbed the second chair like this as well
2) that I had more things in my apartment which I could paint green

Have you done any interesting DIYs or UpCycles lately? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Creative Writing Level 1

Am I a writer?

I know I am a reader, between scientific papers and text books, fiction and non fiction novels, blog posts, news articles and magazines. My day is thoroughly filled with the written word. I could curl up in the library and spend the rest of my life with words.

But am I a writer?

As a scientist I write up my observations, I write papers and review articles, proposals and theses. I may one day write text book chapters. Prepare written materials for courses. And will certainly write grant applications, year after year.

For the past few years I've slowly come to identify myself as a blogger. Writing about my interests, about events in my life, whether small or profound, which I feel the need to share broadly with who ever out there might be reading.

A few months back I wrote about how all of the inspiring memoirs I've read (often by remarkable women) leave me wondering and wanting to one day write my own. And it seemed as though by committing that idea to text, I great part of me decided that yes one day I will do it.

So am I a writer?

Maybe not quite yet, but now I am determined to be.

And so, like many other great decisions in my life, last week I spontaneously signed up for a Creative Writing class at Mount Royal University, which was starting the following evening. I paid my tuition, picked up my textbook (Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway) and somewhat nervously embarked upon learning a new skill.

Keep in mind that I haven't taken, in the whole of my life, more English or writing classes than the bare minimum 1 per year high school requirement. Science and the arts tend to seem mutually exclusive no?

Bare in mind that I have always considered written communication to be my weak suit. Perhaps the years of (and still continuing) feedback that I can't spell to save my life have convinced me of this. Even after revisions anything I write remains littered with typos which I cannot seem to see.

But so far I've found the class to be quite interesting, and a breath of fresh air towards the end of the week spent in the lab. I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the bits and pieces I've written in during the class itself. And I hope that it will translate into new fevor for posting on my blog, I know I certainly intend to share some of my 'creative writing' in this forum.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My dog Flurry. On Thursday May 1st my parents called to say the unsayable. They had to put him down. What a horrible choice of words, how can you describe saying goodbye to a member of your family, releasing him from the pain of age and likely kidney failure, with words like 'put him down'. He'd been my dog for most of my life, and suddenly he was gone. The worst part, I was half way across the country when it happened.

For the past two years, each time I'd go home to visit I'd tell my aging puppy, to just hang in there until Christmas, or summer, the next time I'd be home. Since February every time I talked to my parents I reminded them to tell Flurry I'd see him in June.

The thought that when I come through the door next month he wont be there to great me, the first thing I always do when getting home, sit down and put his head between my knees and rub his sides, his curly white tail waving crazily. The way he'd be so happy and smiling he'd snort when he breathed. I'd reprimand my dad for letting the fur in front of his eyes get so long you'd wonder how he could even see.

In the last year or so, he wouldn't come running, his blindness and deafness lead to him sleeping right next to the door, either in the closet or on his favourite blanket. Sometimes he'd wake up on his own when you came in, other times you'd have to wake him up. But either way he'd always be thrilled. Even if I hadn't been home for months, he always knew it was me, and loved me.

Losing Flurry is more than just losing my dog. I feel as tho with him gone now my childhood is well and truly remote. I have in the past two weeks felt lonelier at times that I ever have since moving away from home. And I still cry to think of him. I sat down to write this post 5 times during those days only to freeze at the keyboard, tears freely flowing from my eyes. I can't imaging what going home on June 6th will feel like. But I know in my heart it cannot possibly feel right.

Flurry, you were always a good dog. I wish I could go back and spend more time kicking a soccer ball for you in the back yard. More time petting your belly on the couch. More time playing tug-a-war with your favourite blanket. More time playing the oven-mitt game. More time sneaking you pieces of cheese. More time taking you for walks and letting you root around in the ditches. More time chase rabbits. More time going for car rides. More time to play with Jovi and Sadie, and all your other dog friends. No dog can ever replace you because you were my first dog, and you taught me how to be me.

So I'm off to watch Marley and Me, and cry about my dog a little more. Maybe not the best choice of post for mother's day. But I'm glad to have finally gotten it out. For everyone out there with a dog who loves you more than anything else can ever love you. Spend a couple extra minutes with him or her tonight.

And Mom, I love you. I'll be home soon.