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Several months ago I graduated with a degree in English and Cultural Studies. My schooling was a love-hate relationship which could have rivaled the worst roller coaster pre-teen romance. One moment I was head over heels in love with my profs and their reading selections, moments later I would be disillusioned and frustrated with the tedium of following someone else's book schedule. What I found most frustrating was the lack of time and energy I had left at the end of the day to read things on my personal reading list.

Visiting my hometown library was one of the first things I did when I arrived in Marathon. I stocked up on a couple of books in order to feel like I'd have a lot of options. This Christmas I'll be finishing off Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, digging in to The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and devouring Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. This is my official reading list but I don't like to be too strict with myself and I often diverge and end up reading something completely unexpected that I find on a friend's shelf or receive for Christmas or my birthday. My friend once referred to my reading as "voracious" and I intend to live up to this title as best I can.

A few extras for literary lovers:

Great White North

Right now I'm enjoying a delicious cup of Rooibos de Provence tea from David's Tea and considering what sort of adventures I'd like to get up to in the next couple of weeks. As usual, I will be spending Christmas with my family in Marathon, Ontario. This year I'll be back for a bit longer than usual so I intend to get up to all sorts of mischief (weather permitting). Usually, there is a bit of baking, movie watching, board games, hiking, skiing, creating and gatherings with kindred spirits. I listen almost exclusively to Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker but this year I'm also giving She & Him's A Very She & Him Christmas a fighting chance to be introduced in the mix. 

 I'm looking forward to the little things this Christmas: the way snow sits on pine branches, the smell of poppyseed cookies baking in the oven, twinkling christmas lights and what my mother calls "a cheery little fire" in the fireplace. I feel pretty blessed right now. 

I took these photos two or three Christmases ago. The next two photos show Coldwell Bay which can also be seen in the third photo of this post that I wrote in July. Do you see the resemblance in the hills? 



The snow creates an incredibly magical atmosphere in Marathon. This year I'm hoping to test out the snow in snowshoes, on skis, hiking and by toboggan. This is ambitious, I don't think I've managed to take on all four winter activities in one vacation but I believe it can be done! I'll be enlisting my family and friends and toting around a big backpack of hot cocoa and snacks to sustain us. Hopefully I will remember to document some of the snow fun. 

I hope you get the chance to spend some time outside frolicking in the snow during the next few weeks. With the extra short days, we need all the extra fun we can get.   

PG: The place to be

Prince George, it's one of those places like Thunder Bay, you don't really visit unless you have some sort of good reason - like awesome friends! We have two wonderful friends living in PG who welcomed us into their home, taught us how to play citadels and made us many a delicious meal. Prince George resembles Thunder Bay in several ways, the primary industry is a paper mill, the city is small enough to feel cozy but large enough to have some of the fancier recreational activities and businesses that smaller towns lack and it is isolated in the beautiful Canadian wilderness.

We had a lot of things to do while we were visiting, despite our hosts' suggestion that their wasn't much going on in their neck of the woods. Rysio played a bit of dodgeball with our friends' team. We spent tons of time at the pool. We visited the art gallery (a local gem). We had cheese from the European deli. We visited Noah's Ark (a petting zoo) and saw tons of farm animals. We stopped in at the newly constructed University of Northern British Columbia. We hiked in the forest. We saw it all. 

If, for whatever strange reason, you one day find yourself in the middle of British Columbia, you probably won't be all that far from Prince George. Stop in and say hello, you won't regret it. I promise.

University of Northern British Columbia Campus

The photos below are from Michael Hosaluk's exhibit: Acts of Chairs at Two Rivers Art Gallery. Unlike most exhibits, guests are encouraged to interact with the art in the space. Remember kids, it's all fun and games until someone drops a chair on their finger!

My little creation: a dense, angular tangle of chairs
I love the shadows on the wall behind the tower of chairs. 

Travelling by Greyhound

Travelling by bus is perhaps the least glamourous form of transportation. Since I had never been to British Columbia, we opted to save a bit of cash and spend a day driving from Vancouver to Prince George. I saw some pretty amazing landscapes. The mountains are pretty breathtaking and you end up in numerous podunk towns. Places like Lytton, often the hottest place in Canada during the summer. The funfacts never end when you're travelling the world by bus! 

In case you're considering bus travel in the near future, I've compiled a little list of pros and cons for you. 

Good scenic views
Nonexistent security regarding luggage or identity (a pro if you're some sort of fugitive or criminal)

Increased risk of contracting head lice, general lack of hygienic standards (the bus and its riders) 
It takes a long time to get anywhere
You're on a travelling toilet 
Lack of personal space
The dude who sits behind you and breathes really heavy
The bro who talks too loud about boring topics like his cousin's dog
The goth guy who shows you the baggie of piercing needles he brought on board (true story)
When you tell people you're taking the bus they generally look at you with a horrified expression followed by a look of pity

These photos were captured in Lytton, British Columbia, on a brief Greyhound Bus stop. 

North Vancouver: Hiking

After spending a few days in West Vancouver, we took the seabus across Vancouver Harbour to stay with friends in North Vancouver. Their backyard looked a lot like the above photo. I mentioned that we had a lot of different weather while we were travelling, this was my favourite day for experiencing snow. When we started our hike it seemed like autumn and there was green grass and tiny mushrooms were still sprouting out of rotting logs and old trees. As we made our way up the Baden Powell trail it felt like we were passing in to an entirely different world. A magical snow covered world. We had two dogs with us, Leo and Sophie, who enjoyed bounding through snowbanks, drinking water from cold mountain streams and photobombing at every opportunity. I think they made a cute addition to the photos, don't you?



I can't wait for winter to arrive in Hamilton, although it may be a month or two before any of the snow decides to stick around. I hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you are.

Vancouver Part I: Downtown

Vancouver: our hippie haven to the left, or is it to the right? I guess it depends on which direction you are facing. In any case, I wanted to share a bit of my vacation to British Columbia with you. Never have I been in a city where I smelled weed with such frequency in so many different locations. Barely anyone smokes cigarettes in Vancouver but if our olfactory senses are any indication, everyone in Vancouver is high. Jokes aside, we had a wonderful time navigating the (timely and efficient) public transportation system and wandering the city each day. We experienced a gamut of weather conditions from rain to snow to hail and smiled through almost all of it.

My first trip to an aquarium. I loved the coral and anemones for their similarity to fungi.  

We tested out the Lion's Winter Ale at Grainville Island Brewing, Canada's first microbrewery.

In Vancouver's historic Gastown, we stumbled upon the steam powered clock. As you can imagine, Rysio was thrilled (I think this could be considered our third steam themed date of 2011, see here and here, for our first and second). 

The view from downtown, looking over Vancouver Harbour.


We had sushi at The Eatery, recommended by my friend Kate. What we expected to be a calm evening of sushi in a relaxing Japanese inspired environment turned out to be a restaurant with crazy patterns, Warhol-esque photos of Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao, giant sculptures hanging from the ceiling, blacklight and a DJ. Surprises like that are fun when you're travelling.

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