Good things (8)

silhouette photography of birds in flight and perched on electricity line
Photo by Elizabeth Tr. Armstrong on

AKA: Warts and All

I am still here, scarred, but still here. I feel that jubilant is a possibility — but still a ways off at the moment.


I realize how much I carry around in my head, how much worry is bubbling just below the surface. Still, I have a few key things I’d like support on, so hopefully, I don’t make a fool of myself and create a bloody tidal wave.


Some changes coming to the team next month and I am looking forward to the chance to look at the work we do with fresh eyes. #mentalhealthatwork

(I wrote that in April or March of this year, and now we are coming up on August with nothing to show for it but more Worry and Stress)*

>Don’t fret, I debriefed with my team, I’ve documented the details, I’ve penned a fantastic letter and maybe, just maybe, the proverbial bullet-hole will finally get more than a proverbial bandaid.


And, laugh if you can, cry if you must — because the body of this was sketched around 4 months ago, and reality hasn’t shifted much — maybe I’m getting more resilient, and then again, sometimes I wonder why we now shoulder the expectation that we SHOULD be more resilient– like everyone is supposed to aspire to be bullet-proof, instead of just a decent, healthy, happy, human being. We shouldn’t have to be 110% perfect, 110% of the time.


photo of white umbrella with blue smoke illustration
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From sometime back in September…

This week was soul-sucking, spirit-crushing wicked fast rollercoaster.

I called my sister and cried on the phone yesterday, walked the streets in the dark, taking a trip out to view a suite in what some would term the middle of nowhere.

But at the time, it was kinda of perfect… Surrounded by apparently sane people, on the flat, with groceries just around the corner (open until midnight) and a library — as I found out today, that could have been the hormones talking. Still, that is one very big reason to bring someone along with you house-hunting –two heads are better than one. Because right then, my heart-strings were being pulled. I took that as a good sign I’m not dead inside yet.

I got up the next morning, heard 10 seconds of a story on the radio and started crying again. In my line of work, you always are reminded of the importance of mental health and positive self-talk, so I stared myself down in the mirror and said with wonderful conviction: It will be ok. Everything will be ok.

On the upside, I have a new rain-jacket that works great. Next on the list is waterproof footwear. Tacofino, with Forrest and Rube, was also delicious. And later spilling my guts to my brother who was awake, present and supportive was highly restorative 🙂 And I really, truly would like to visit France.

DailyLines from Diana Gabaldon was great way to start this morning, catching glimpses of book 9, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone. And popcorn and Netflix is a great way to end it.

Recently, my mom said to me: “I would like to help but not sure how…Life is not so simple today” which means so much for me to hear.


Them’s the rules

Getting home today seemed to take an eternity. However, this incident made me laugh heartily on the inside 🙂

‘Sir, you can not bring a dog on the bus.’

‘But I’m not,’ says an honest, hopeful voice with no hint of malice or deception. I peer around out the open door from my seat behind the driver to see a short, round man in a toque and down jacket with a bright, cheerful, furry face smiling out from where he has been zipped cozily in with his owner.

‘That is a dog, sir. And you cannot bring a dog on the bus unless it is in an approved carrier. Sorry, sir. Those are the rules.’

The driver speaks calmly and kindly and the two transit hopefuls offer no rebuke.

The three of them have my respect for being so sincere and cordial their exchange, in what, in many cases could have become an ugly confrontation. They also made me smile, and just a tad sad (I do hope they managed to find a safe way home and did not spend too long in the cold and dark).

Brain bites:

I honestly don’t know what to write for this prompt (Sacred).

Sacred seems too big a concept for me today. I thought first of the Sacred Headwaters and the battle that is being fought there, and then of the contention around the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline projects, followed by coastal populations, First Nations, wild and captive whales and the realities of climate change and fossil fuel dependence that are getting harder and harder to ignore.

I watched the documentary Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World and was completely captivated. There was real truth and beauty and strength in the work itself and in the people who came together to tell a story that I think the world needs to hear.

We’ve only got one planet and it needs our help. As then 12 year-old Severn Suzuki said speaking at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, “If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it” (2:37). The development of these energy and infrastructure projects is not fixing anything. The risk to our environment and our future is huge and should anything happen, we do not have the tools to fix it. And yet in the face of science and opposition, despite the finite nature of our resources and the precariousness of our future and that of future generation on this earth, we continue to exploit rather than protect the natural world, in favour of short term gains, delivered to a fraction of the population, while placing every one and everything else at risk of facing a problem with no solution.

Science World has a new exhibit upcoming. It’s a space for children aged 0-5 to learn to play. It’s scary that this is a thing now, that kids need to relearn how to play, to develop their brains away from screens and schedules, that you need to seek out green-space and navigate through layers of marketing and media to find products and information that isn’t toxic to your health or that of your child.

I guess, what I’m trying to say is that life is sacred. The natural world is sacred. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t distance yourself from it. Fight for it!


More information/Inspired by:

Cinco de Mayo

I bought chips and salsa on a whim yesterday, with no clue whatsoever how appropriate the purchase would come to be just 24 hours later — to be honest I didn’t fully realize it was Cinco de Mayo until about an hour ago!

But today has gone very well, the weather is just beautiful and I am feeling blissful munching on my chips and salsa, watching Hope for Wildlife and enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze that’s coming through my window(s).


Making Headlines: Optimistic Earthlings

Authored by S. Riesco.

Originally written for my Environmental Science course, Geography 101 in November of 2015. I thought it was worth sharing… Enjoy!


Climate change, sustainability and our action or inaction on a variety of issues linked to these topics has been front and centre in the media over the past three months. The focus is on recent extreme weather events, such as BC’s summer drought, and the upcoming climate talks in Paris, scheduled to begin November 30th. At the surface, our situation appears bleak. We are told we are unprepared, currently unwilling or unable to meet the challenges of prolonged drought, forest fires, flooding and temperature extremes that are now characteristic of a rapidly changing climate. As a nation, Canada will fail to meet targets for reduction of carbon emissions, and as a global community, we face an uphill battle in trying to adapt to a changing world while concurrently mitigating the inevitable human, economic and environmental impacts. But it is not all bad news; there are good people, doing good things and making positive change happen! Understanding and awareness of our impact on and connections to Earth’s natural systems is growing and with it hope, opportunity, teamwork and innovation, all of which bring us closer to a sustainable future.

Christopher Pollen’s article, Climate Change vs. Crescent Beach explores how various B.C. communities on the coast are approaching the problems associated with climate change in general and rising sea levels in particular. Installing perforated storm sewer pipes, raising homes, roads and dikes, are all strategies in use, whereas ‘managed retreat’ – where government opts to buy out property owners and abandon a site to the sea,” remains as a last resort. Through research and planning many communities hope to avoid disaster, unlike Copenhagen, which “became a leader in urban flood control” in the wake of catastrophe (Pollen n.p).

“‘Green buildings are the easiest, fastest, cheapest and most effective means of addressing global warming.’”(Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Centre for Architecture qtd. by Ball n.p). David Ball’s article, Could More Affordable Housing Also Curb Climate Change? details the success of various affordable housing projects across the country in achieving greater sustainability, with a focus on Ottawa’s Beaver Barracks. The author illustrates how a change in approach –encouraging retrofits and renos rather than constructing replacement units, and eliminating garbage chutes, for example, can lead to significant positive changes. These include innovative, vastly more efficient designs, greater awareness and community engagement, reduced carbon emissions, and overall increased sustainability (Ball n.p).

CBC News’ writer Emily Chung pulls details from a new report released by the Council of Canadian Academies that “suggests that if the federal government and provincial governments have the will to cut their emissions significantly, the tools they need already exist.” (Chung n.p). These tools include nuclear and hydropower, biofuels, electric vehicles, carbon capture, carbon tax, and cap and trade initiatives (Chung n.p). In addition, the report drew attention to the importance of creating accessible language and education as it relates to the public discourse on climate-change and climate action (Chung n.p). And perhaps most important was the acknowledgement that while technology and education will certainly aid in the fight, climate change is a complex problem, that will require some varied and unique solutions: “Carbon capture and storage might be the best option in Alberta and renewables like small hydro and wood waste might be the best in British Columbia…. We had to tell people about the real world and the real world’s not simple” (qtd. in Chung n.p).

The theme of using technology and innovation to move towards a more sustainable future is continued by Joel Schlesinger’s article on alternative energy. As it turns out Alberta, while home to one of the world’s largest source of carbon emissions, the tar sands, is also home to “‘one of the largest biomass plantations in North America.’” (qtd. in Schlesinger n.p). The fact that the this plantation is planned and managed so successfully, integrated with other systems and designed to function within and improve existing infrastructure, (Schlesinger n.p) is fantastic and something that I think is central to the development of a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

Fresh water is an essential resource on which all life depends, and although here in B.C. we are blessed with large quantities of it, it is only recently that we have come to realize how important it really is, and taken steps to protect it (Shaw n.p). Rob Shaw sheds some light on our province’s historical, current and future water laws in his article, New Law gives B.C. more authority involving water use. The article illustrates a shift in consciousness from the historical frontier mentality of limitless possibility to one of better science, efficiency and regulation. Coming into effect January 1, 2016, “new groundwater rules will require users to measure and report the amount of water they pump from the ground,” closing a centuries-old loophole, and the first step towards a more water-conscious future (Shaw n.p).

In reading the articles above, I was struck by the ingenuity and adaptability of the human race. I believe these qualities, complimented by science and fueled by hope, have and will continue to ensure our survival. Climate change is a challenge and sometimes the negativity, doubt and inaction that we are faced with every day is enough to bring one to tears. Yet, we should not give in to denial or hopelessness, nor sit waiting for the inventions of tomorrow to solve the problems of today. We should remember that we have our communities, we have science, and technology and the tools and ability to make a difference today– these articles prove that. There is hope for the future; we should not give up.



Works Cited

  • Ball, David. “Could More Affordable Housing Also Curb Climate Change?” The Tyee. 20 November 2015. Web.
  • Chung, Emily. “Canada Could Slash CO2 Emissions with Existing Technologies, Proven Policies.” CBC News. 27 October 2015. Web.
  • Pollen, Christopher. “Climate Change vs. Crescent Beach.” The Tyee. 11 November 2015. Web.
  • Schlesinger, Joel. “Fuel Made from Plants Is like ‘Running on Solar Energy.’” The Province. 26 November 2015. Web.
  • Shaw, Rob. “New Law Gives BC More Authority Involving Water Use.” Vancouver Sun. 14 September 2015. Web.



Onward (2)

What I want most in the world right now:

  • To hug a clean, happy dog (mine)– that’s unfortunately a work in progress…
  • To be hugged
  • Eggnog and shortbread
  • To watch a funny movie
  • To go 1 hour completely media/advertisement/buy me/hear me-free
  • To sleep like the dead, in my own bed
  • To get all my little ducks in a row: laundry, dishes, tunes and gear
  • To be comfortable and beautiful, AKA dress up and go someplace fun with some fun people

Please, please, please!

Twinkie bounces, wiggles and sneezes uncontrollably when he is really excited or wants something desperately. The comedy of this is hard to get across on paper, but in person it is almost impossible to keep a straight face – unless you’re my sister.

Following the “Where’s Sami?” episode, Twink is still patrolling the kitchen, Rube is still eating breakfast, and Mom and I are still in the living room.

Click, click, click, click,…Mmreeet. Harrumph. Cha, cha. Mmmreeeeeeet. Eeet. Aachoo! Aachoo! Aah aah choo! Click, click. Cha, harrumph. Cha. Mmmreeeeeeet!

Twinkie has planted himself behind Ruby’s chair. Sitting to standing and back again, his nails click on the hardwood as he steps impatiently in place. He whines, chuffs and harrumps for all he is worth, until he is overcome with sneezing and must restart.

“Love me, please! I need someone to love me. I am a dog all alone in this world. Oh, please. Please, please, please!”

“What?!” Rube barks, turning from her breakfast to give him the evil eye, as Mom and I look on, laughing. She is immune to his pleas. Stoney-faced, she turns back to finish her meal. Plan A having failed, Twink is on to Plan B: playing the “I’m the cutest most quietest, most devoted doggy with the best puppy-dog eyes, won’t you please pet me now” card.

It works. Rube has finished breakfast. She turns once again to see Twinkie gazing hopefully into her eyes, and caves 🙂