The tie-dye extravaganza continues!

I mentioned (here) that I had ordered some face masks that I intended to tie-dye. Well, they finally made it and I finally got to tie-dye them. Well, some of them. I actually bought a lot!

I really wanted to tie-dye masks because I think they’re so cute, but, way too expensive for my liking. Stores near here are selling them for $25 a mask, and, shops on ETSY are selling them for $20 – $75 per tie-dyed mask.

This batch is looking rather lilac on camera (I have white lighting in my room where I took this picture). In person they’re more of a soft blue with dark blue speckles.

I personally love them. I’m going to give one to my mom and the rest I’m going to sell. It looks like we’re going to be wearing masks for a while, and I personally believe that everyone should be able to have a cute mask if they want one. And tie-dye masks should be way more affordable than they presently are.

If you’re interested in a tie-dye mask, let me know! And if you’re not interested, thank you for reading anyway. I appreciate you stopping by and I hope you had a wonderful weekend.


Stories about this past weekend are coming.

  • Traveling during a pandemic
  • Attending a funeral during a pandemic
  • A few more stories of the goodness my uncle spread in his lifetime
  • Running into my high school bully and her husband
  • Meeting Americans in a hotel elevator who are blatantly ignoring the border closure and coming to Canada for a holiday
  • Smoke from the California/Oregon fires blanketing our world on the West Coast
  • I bought a car!
  • What two weeks in quarantine is going to look like now

There’s so much to talk about! More coming soon.

If you’re reading and you made it this far, thank you. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, thank you. And, in any case that you need a reminder today, you’re doing great. Keep going.

-Vee

How to spot the fakes, the overly-edited and the just not quite real photos on Instagram and beyond

I’ve heard it said that as many as 6 out of every 10 people really can’t tell the difference between if a photo is real or fake. As someone who has done a lot of photo manipulating in my day, I thought perhaps I’d take the opportunity to show some examples of fake, overly edited and unrealistic photos as a means to know what to look for.

If you know any of the people in this photos, please do not send them hate messages. The point of this post is not to bully, it’s just to share more insight on just how Instagram and reality aren’t always the same.

Some examples:

THE TAJ MAHAL

When I first saw this photo, the Instagrammer was claiming that she merely used a filter to give it a pink-tint, because she liked the look. The problem is, there’s a whole lot more that’s been done to this photo than just adding a filter.

Firstly, as one of the most visited, photographed and loved landmarks on earth, the Taj Mahal is crowded. All the time. Every day. Even on a slow day it’s 100% unlikely that she ever would have been able to take this photo with only her in this shot.

Secondly, the reflection of the Taj Mahal in the pool has been disproportionately scaled to fit in the pool. While it is possible to see a reflection of the structure in the pool, the width of the building and the angle of this shot make it virtually impossible for the entire Taj Mahal to be seen in the narrow pool.

Thirdly, note how the shadow of her standing in front of the pool is on the stone she’s standing on, but stops dead at the pool. Her reflection does not continue in the water… which is not really how reflection works, either.

This is a small thing, not noticed by simply looking at this photo alone, but this girl has actually photoshopped those birds, the exact cluster of birds, into several other photos from different locales around the world – the south of France, Venice, etc.. Moral of the story – there is more fake in this photo than real.

LAKE LOUISE, ALBERTA, CANADA

This photo, or photos, is at the Fairmont Lake Louise. This is a place I’ve been to many times in my life and can attest to its beauty, so when I see this photo, not only do I see a cringey photoshop job, but I also take a little bit of offense. Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, naturally. It doesn’t need to be edited.

Putting my personal feelings aside, do you notice how she seems to have a sort of ‘ethereal’ halo around her? When people are newbies at photoshop, that’s a trick they tend to use to try and help photos blend into the background. In her case, I think she likely thought because there was so much white in the background it wouldn’t look as obvious. You can also see the halo-like lighting at the top of the chair and all the way around the edge of the window frame.

Another thing to note is that she appears to be wearing a colour changing toque. This is a small thing but the back of her toque is pink and the front of her toque is grey. This happens a lot when you import a part of an image from elsewhere into a new image. In this case, I think she imported her body in front of this window.

While I think she likely ate at this restaurant when she was there, she likely wasn’t seated by a window. This restaurant books up months in advance, and since she couldn’t get a picture in front of a window, she photoshopped herself in front of the window, added some filters and then overly-saturated the two images to try and make them blend together easily.

IT’S PARIS… OR IS IT?

Have you ever seen stars in the middle of the city? No. There’s a reason for that, it’s called light pollution. When the light from a city brightens the sky, it drowns out the visibility of the stars.

This is Paris, the city love, the city of lights, with millions of lights everywhere… hundreds, if not thousands seen in this photo alone. The Eiffel tower itself is lit in this photo. There’s also lights lit all around the tower. And yet light pollution just didn’t happen on this day? A sky full of stars just magically appeared in a not very dark sky?

To me it looks like there’s been some stitching down around hear head, and also on her left leg. Those are more subtle.

Was she actually in Paris? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower, so I cannot vouch as to whether or not this concrete she’s sitting on is in fact there. I will say though, this concrete she’s sitting on could really be anywhere. It could be in her back yard. The fact that she’s looking away means there really isn’t a lot involved with changing this photo to be San Francisco, or Hong Kong… or anywhere, if you catch my drift. If she wasn’t in Paris, all she really needed to do was drop Paris in the background. In her case, she also heavily edited the sky to fill it with stars so that her life looks even that much more magical.

It’s an illusion. It’s all an illusion.

THE ‘CLOUD CHASER’

Take a close look at the clouds in the background of these photos. This Instagram user has photoshopped the sky in every photo she’s taken, around the world, to put in clouds that she actually liked, because the actual clouds in the sky just weren’t good enough for her. That same cluster of clouds followed her around the world.

If someone is willing to go through the process to edit the clouds in the sky, what does that say about the authenticity of their Instagram?

HOW MANY HANDS DOES SHE HAVE?

Honestly, the Kardashians are easy to use for showcasing photo editing fails because there aren’t really any photos they post without editing.

Editing of this photo was clearly done in FaceTune. If you don’t notice the flaw immediately, that’s okay. It’s subtle on first glance. But look at the hand on the right side of Khloe Kardashian, she seems to have tried to pull in her thigh to make it look thinner, and in the process, created a second hand… or at least 1.5 hands. The thing about FaceTune that people often forget is that when the APP disrupts the data to make someone thinner, it’s going to try and fix that data by re-writing the background of the photo. In this case, her hand ended up getting duplicated.

WHEN YOUR THIGH IS THINNER THAN YOUR KNEE

Either her left leg (the underneath leg) is considerably longer and thinner than her right leg (disproportionately so) or, this is a bad photoshop job. Now, this is Kourtney Kardashian, who in my opinion needs no photoshopping to start with. This photo is just all sorts of weird. It seems to give the illusion that her left thigh gets thinner as yo move farther up from her knee. For a woman who’s already very thin to start with, it’s sad that she feels she needs to be this heavily edited in order to be posted for public consumption.

Things to look for:

If you’re browsing Instagram and something seems to good to be true, it probably is. I want to disclaim that, to the people who feel a need to edit their photos there is no hate here. I just want to make people more aware of just how easy it is to fake reality. If we all know the truth behind what a photo really is, we might stop trying so hard to make our lives a series of these picture perfect images. If you’re curious about how to tell for editing, here’s couple of suggestions to look for:

  • Everything in the photo is in focus. Camera’s aren’t capable of capturing both the subject in the foreground and the objects in the background to all be in focus in one photo.
  • Copied patterns. This doesn’t just happen with the sky, this happens with human body parts. Fitness influencers are big for this – not only do they photoshop their muscles, but they’ll photoshop the muscles of anyone in the photo with them. If you’ve ever seen a group of men flexing their biceps that all seem to look shockingly similar, it’s probably because they are.
  • Blurriness or lack of texture is a telltale sign that someone’s face has been smoothed over with a FaceTune filter. Human beings have pores, texture and colouring in their skin. If you’re not seeing it in photos, that’s not because they were blessed by the genetic lottery, that’s because they edited it out.
  • Damaged/Distorted Pixels. If you’re looking at a photo and there appears to be damaged pixels within the image, this is a telltale sign of poor editing. There’s something in photoshop called the ‘Clone Stamp’ and what that does is allow you to draw over portions of an image with the pixels from elsewhere in the image. The process of clone stamping works great if you’re not looking closely at an image, but, if you’re taking a second look, the clone stamp ALWAYS damages pixels in the photograph. Once those pixels are damaged, you can’t get them back.
  • When the reflection doesn’t match the body. While people will make their waist thinner, legs longer, boobs bigger and so on and so forth, the majority of people seem to forget about their reflection. If there’s anything reflective in the photo at all – mirrors, windows, any body of water, shadows from the sun, check the reflection. Often times the reflection will be a display of their original image that they were trying to edit out.
  • A distorted background. Probably the most easy of all to spot, crooked doors, lamp posts with holes in them, clean lines of walls and paintings being off are all telltale signs the photo you’re looking at isn’t legitimate. When people try to make themselves look thinner in photos, these apps they use ‘pull in’ their body. When their body is pulled in, so is the background behind them – which makes for a whole lot of cars with protruding lesions and benches that seem to defy the laws of physics.

To anyone who doesn’t already know (I’m assuming everyone does, but just in case) any and all photos you’re viewing on Instagram from your phone can be zoomed in by pinching the screen of your phone. If you’re not on your phone, or you’re elsewhere on the web and something looks off, it probably is. You can zoom in on any photo on the internet by changing the view of your Internet Browser.

To close this off, I’d just like to say that… life is a very beautiful and fragile thing and that who you are is perfect, just the way you are. If you do edit yourself in photos for your Instagram, that’s your choice, but please, at the very least, keep the real versions for yourself. There’s nothing worse than looking back at photos of your life and realizing that they’re so heavily edited you don’t even recognize yourself. It almost… distorts your memories, if that makes any sense.

There’s no hate. I just want to remind people that Instagram and reality aren’t one and the same.

Canadian Neighbours

It’s not a smart idea to go for a walk when the neighbours are out. Actually, when these neighbours are out, we tend to just let them be and avoid even driving past them. It’s a little ‘extra’, sure. But they don’t like it when humans bother them and we Canadians, we like to accommodate one another. They might look nice, docile and cute but I promise you, if they feel threatened you will wind up in a lot of pain.

Normally we don’t see the kids (just the grown ups), but they’re extra territorial when their babies are with them. People say Mama Bears are protective, I swear to goodness, the Moose are a lot more protective of their little ones.

And yes, the plural of moose is moose.

And yes, this is a Mama Moose and baby. Only male moose grow antlers.

A new low for the human race.

Honestly, I should just make an series on this blog to showcase all of the reasons why Influencers are idiots. Because there are a lot of them. There are stories which anger me, there are stories that annoy me and then there are stories that make me wonder how I am the same species as some people.

An ‘Influencer’ (we all know I use that term lightly) and aspiring rapper from Ontario was recently detained at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport due to a stunt he pulled on a plane headed for Jamaica that he hoped would make him go viral.

Approximately 30 minutes from landing in Montego Bay, Jamaica, WestJet Flight 2702 (Toronto to Montego Bay) was rerouted back to Toronto.

Why?

James Potok stood up in the back of the plane to exclaim that he had just gotten back from China and was not feeling well, and that he thought he might have Corona Virus.

Potok’s buddy actually filmed the stunt because they had hopes of releasing the video of his ‘prank’ to his YouTube channel and it would make him an internet sensation.

Being the idiot that he is, Potok thought everyone would laugh it off, he’d sit back down and land in Jamaica for a nice holiday, which he exclaimed was to ‘film his new music video’.

Oh no, no, no.

Infectious disease protocols require that any plane must return to it’s originating city unless there is imminent risk of death to one or more passengers on board. Furthermore, the infected passenger must be quarantined and ALL passengers are subject to medical evaluation upon landing.

Jamaica, an Island Nation, certainly isn’t going to let someone land in their country with an infectious disease that could spread throughout the rest of the tiny country. So, the plane turned around and returned to Toronto. More than 200 people had their holidays delayed, put on hold or cancelled and Potok’s response was ‘I’m an artists… any publicity is good publicity’.

There are three important notes to point out here:

  1. More than 200 people were forced to sit on a plane for several hours (as it returned home to Toronto) with someone who’d claimed that he had an infectious disease, a disease that they could very well have caught by just being in proximity to him.
  2. Those people were then subject to medical evaluations, as precautionary measure, after it was learned this was all a hoax, thus delaying their abilities to get on new flights, or rearrange their travel plans. Many people didn’t just miss a day or two of their holiday but there were at least a dozen people on that flight who were headed to Jamaica for a wedding and were not able to get to the wedding because of this.
  3. More than 200 people were stranded in Jamaica, unable to return home to go back to work on time, or back to their lives because the plane that was supposed to drop people off in Jamaica and pick up passengers to fly back to Toronto never got there. Work was missed, and people were in panic mode trying to secure childcare because they thought they were going to be home several days before they were actually all able to get home. They had to spend extra money to stay extra nights in Jamaica because of this, and it could take up to a year for the airline to reimburse them for this, if they get reimbursed at all.

As you can tell from the #VirusBoy and #WuhanClan that are new additions to his Instagram Bio, James Potok clearly shows a great deal of remorse for what he did.

Here’s what he had to say in the airport after returning home, getting medical clearance that he did not, in fact have corona virus, and being detained by Canadian authorities:

Look at the smug written all over his face…

It’s worth noting that Potok is being charged with mischief and breach of recognizance and is due in Ontario Provincial Court on March 9th for the stunt he pulled. But, I really don’t think that he cares.

To take his manipulation even a step further into the territory of shiteous human being, and, in his words ‘to say sorry for all of the hassle [he’s] caused’, he’s now claiming to be giving away $5,000 on his Instagram page. All you have to do is like and follow his account, his friend’s account who was on the flight to shoot the video they hoped would go viral, and to like his post, tag three friends and share the post to your own Instagram.

God, if I were a lawyer right now, that would be cataloged as Exhibits A through Z of why he’s not sorry for what he’s done, shows no remorse and is currently trying to capitalize on the attention he’s received for his careless, dangerous stunt.

I mean, how am I the same species as this person?

Could you imagine believing you were trapped on a plane (a tiny sky tin with recirculating air) with someone who potentially had an infectious disease? As someone who suffers from anxiety, those several hours flying back to Toronto would have been the worst hours of my life. Imagine the people on board with babies, or the elderly people on board who’s immune system’s are, at times, weaker than the rest of us. Imagine the torture of having to fly back to Toronto wondering the whole time, worrying the whole time.

And to the 179 people who commented on his ‘Instagram Giveaway’ tagging their friends, you also need a lesson in basic human decency.

As far as I’m concerned, this smug idiot should have his social media accounts shut down. I’d love it if Instagram just outright deleted his account and if YouTube just deleted his channel. People like this deserve to fade into obscurity somewhere.

Point of Note – When asked if he felt sorry for what happened, Potok proclaimed that his joke was taken out of context and that he was talking about a Chinese Food restaurant and that he had food poisoning. Though it’s on video him saying ‘I think I have Corona Virus’, he’s currently trying to tell the news outlets, and the world through his online platforms, that he never said anything about corona virus.

Given this is basically all online at this point, I can’t wait to, in a month’s time, hear that a judge used his Instagram and YouTube messages against him and that he’s being charged criminally.

And honestly, if I were WestJet, he’d be on a no-fly list for life and I’d go after him to seek damages for all of the reimbursements to other travellers they had to make and are going to have to make, because of his stunt.

This disease has killed more than 500 people worldwide. And all that is to him is a means to get more Instagram followers…

*Additional Note: To the people tired of me ragging Influencers, I’d be happy to share some good stories about Influencers, I just don’t know any. I wholeheartedly believe that people who use their influence for good don’t seek credit/internet fame for what they do. But, if you have a lovely story of an Influencer using their influence for good, please share. I’d love to shine a light on it.

Solo Road-Tripping the ‘Highway Thru Hell’

Photo: Bridge Wisdom

In Canada, we have a relatively popular docu-series TV show called ‘Highway Thru Hell’. The show, chronicling treacherous heavy rescue on wintery British Columbia highways is definitely one that’s struck a cord with people of my dad’s generation. It’s been on the air since 2012, and frequently showcases roads that I travel and have spent my life travelling.

The past few days I’ve driven about 1,500 miles up and down the ‘Highway Thru Hell’ chasing scenery, the feeling of calm and every tourist attraction I could possibly find. (Sounds familiar, right? Once you get a taste of the road trip buzz, you just need more of it)

Most major highways in British Columbia are mountain passes. With the Rocky Mountains, the Coast Mountains and the Cascade Mountains all in one province, it’s safe to say if you’re driving anywhere, it’s going to be through, or over the mountains. In spring, summer and fall, these highways are much easier to travel than what’s showcased on the television show. These roads can showcase some of the most breathtaking scenery you ever did see. Even on a cloudy/rainy day. The ‘Highway Thru Hell’ is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G.

One of the best things about driving a mountain pass is that cell phone reception is sparse. It’s a matter of going for long periods of time, hours on end, without having being able to see any notifications on your phone or have anyone call you. It really is just you, the road and the stunning scenery around you. And I love that feeling.

Nature is amazing. The way the mountains poke up out of the earth like gifts from the heavens. The way that trees grow right out the side of mountains and thrive, on the edge of a cliff, sturdy and comfortable as though nothing can harm it. The way that rivers carve out landscapes from the sky to the sea, flowing with such power it can destroy rock face and anything in its wake. British Columbia is incredible.

Along the way I got a little fed-up with road construction. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘In Canada we have nine months of winter and three months of road repair’? Oh boy, British Columbia for July-September is RIDICULOUS. Tired of sitting in a lineup of traffic due road construction, I stopped on the side of the highway and went for a bit of a hike.

I wound up finding an old, abandoned bridge. The sign on the bridge said it was built in 1927. Which, I thought was pretty cool. Imagine all the history this bridge has scene over the past (nearly) 100 years.

There were locks with initials along the bridge (reminiscent of the love-lock bridge in Paris) and initials and names carved all the way across it. I can’t help but wonder if Abby and Brad ever worked out. If they ever came back to that bridge after carving their names into it. If there was a happy ending… These are just the types of thoughts that can run through my mind when I have no cell service to distract me.

One of my favourite messages carved into the bridge (photo at top of post) was ‘Love is Stronger’. Because I agree. Love is stronger.

The actual highway can be seen in this photo below, it’s that orange bridge up in the distance. There was some construction happening on the bridge and traffic was pretty heavily backed up leading to the bridge, which was why I decided to stop in the first place. And I’m pretty glad that I did.

The abandoned bridge had a lot of ghosts and a lot of history to it. The feeling of walking across it, I couldn’t help but wonder about those who travelled it and how incredible of infrastructure they must’ve found it to be in 1927 when it was first built.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible trip. I love British Columbia. I’m grew up here and I’m still finding new places each and every day that I’ve never seen before. There’s so much to see, so many places to go and so many things to do. Honestly, I think you could spend your lifetime exploring this province and never see it all.

I love solo-road trips because you get to do as you please. It’s peaceful. It’s solitude. It’s anything that you want it to be and you don’t have to deal with, or please, anyone else in the process.

And it doesn’t hurt that British Columbia is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful… even on the cloudiest/rainiest of days.

Solo Road-Tripping up the Gold Rush Trail

In 1858 word got out of the discovery of gold in the upper Fraser and people began flocking to British Columbia in droves with hopes of striking it rich. After the gold count began declining, prospectors made their way further north into British Columbia’s interior in search of the rich-gold bearing creeks of the Cariboo.

Though I can’t even begin to imagine how vastly the route has expanded in the past 170 years, The Gold Rush trail remains to this day. Now, it’s a highway through the heart of British Columbia’s broad landscapes (that my pictures can’t even remotely do justice) and heartland. It’s a route to remind people just how vast and breathtaking this part of the world truly is.

I’ve been on the road the past few days. I’ve driven more than 1,500 miles up and down British Columbia’s ‘Gold Rush Trail’ chasing the scenery, the feeling of calm and every tourist attraction that I could possibly find.

Why? Because when you’re road-tripping alone, YOU and only you get to decide what you want to do and where you want to go. It’s a powerful feeling, not needing to check with someone before you stop somewhere or do something. I loved it.

I spent some time with my best friend and her family. Time with them always grounds me. She inspires me and her children cant help but make me feel happier. They’re adorable, they say silly things and everything is exciting to them at this point in life. What’s not to love about that?

I spent a lot of time on the road. Truthfully, I love driving alone. I love taking a stop to appreciate the view. I love feeling the sun beat down on my face as I hear the river rushing beneath me. I love finding new ‘tourist traps’ to wander into. I, most importantly, love driving the highways with no cell service. When your phone just doesn’t work – it’s the universe’s way of telling you to let go and be one with the world. And that, that I have done.

The Fraser Canyon, home to the famous ‘Jackass Mountain’, is a several hundred kilometer long highway that was literally built by blasting out the sides of mountains to make enough room for roadway. The road can often get crowded with herds of Big Horn Sheep that make for the most darling of Canadian ‘traffic jams. Also on the highway you can find a string of seven tunnels, and some original bridges from the 1800’s Gold Rush that have been turned into Provincial Parks for people to hike/picnic.

I love nature. I love being out in the world, seeing how the mountains have peaked up over thousands of years, how the river has curved it’s way through the landscapes, how the trees have grown in some places and not in other. And I love finding homes in the middle of nowhere. I find myself imagining what these people do for work, how they can live so far away from towns… how long their morning commute must be, without traffic. A morning commute without traffic, how’s that for irony that’s not really irony?

The Fraser River, one of the largest (if not the largest) in the province, winds along the side of the highway, providing scenic sights throughout the drive for you to be able to stop, take a breath of the freshest, cleanest, thin mountain air, feel the sun beating down on your skin and realize how truly incredible nature is.

I found a farm, and a mini-orchard along the way. This might have been my favourite stop of today. Not for the overpriced baked goods and delectable goodies that I am not able to eat. But more because of the fact that it’s a tiny little farm outside a tiny little town (population 200) and so many people know about this tiny little farm outside of the tiny little town that when I drove up the place was packed.

I came, I saw, I picked some apples, posed for some photos and was transplanted to a simpler time and place in which life’s little things (such an apple orchard) can really be the biggest and most important piece of so very many people’s day. And I mean, can you get fresher apples than from straight off the tree?

Today was a reminder to not take life so seriously all the time. Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is stop at a little roadside pullout, have solo-picnic and dip my toes in the lake. It’s the little things that can bring brightness to your day. And when you’re driving 1,500 kms on your own, you need to get out and stretch your legs.

In one highway you can go from the Pacific Ocean to densely pack coniferous forests, into the Coast Mountains, along the Fraser River/Canyon, into the BC desert (complete with rattlesnakes and all) and then back into the densely packed temperate forests that are Northern British Columbia.

This province is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Every piece of it is breathtaking. And it’s so hard to explain in just a few words and a few photos.

Solo road-tripping is peaceful, calming and everything that I needed to reset and recharge to face the world again.

If you’ve ever been thinking about going on a road trip on your own, do it. You don’t have to travel across the world in order to travel. Sometimes you can get in your car to travel in ‘your own back yard’ and find places, sights, tourist stops you’ve never seen or heard of before.

And if you’ve ever been thinking about doing a Canadian road trip, do it. I highly, highly, highly recommend British Columbia. Any highway that you drive in this province you’re going to be hit with incredible scenery, vast landscapes, beautiful wildlife and a reminder of what a small space you take in this universe. Which, in my mind, are all incredibly valuable experiences.

*Point of Note – The ‘Gold Rush Trail’ is also the road that you need to take to get to Alaska if you’re interested in road-tripping that far north.

Grateful for the good.

As she opened her birthday presents at the kitchen table, my mom broke down and cried this morning. They were both tears of happiness and tears of… something more. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but seemed almost like tears of nostalgia or thankfulness.

My brother bought her plane tickets to Denmark for her birthday. He sent them to her email this morning with a note that said ‘Happy Birthday, I’ll see you in two weeks”. The significance of this is that her granddaughter was born in May and she’s been itching to get over there to meet her grand-baby ever since. So now, the woman who thought she would never ever get to travel is off to Europe for the second time in two years. It’s safe to say that made her morning, and likely day/week/year.

The other presents we gave her were much smaller in comparison. Just little things that sort of fit into her world each day. A fishing pole for her days at the lake, a new summer outfit for if it EVER gets sunny around here, a rice cooker because she always complained of never having one but was too stubborn to go buy one.

After she’d opened the presents, though, she was still crying. After she’d seen her cake, she was still in tears. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I’d asked her what was wrong.

She quite literally broke down at the kitchen table this morning, right in front of me.

‘I’m remembering my bithday last year’, she said.

‘No doubt,’ I responded, thinking she was just reflecting on what has been a difficult year for her.

‘I was so sick last year. So very sick. And I was afraid to tell anyone and I was afraid to get checked out. I really should have gotten checked out in August and not in November when I did.”

I wrapped my arms around her as she sat in the chair and said ‘It’s okay, it all worked out okay’.

She went on to say ‘When they finally did give me my diagnosis, when I finally learned what was wrong, you know you go through that moment, that… ‘Am I going to make it to my next birthday’ frame of mind. And now I’m here and it’s so incredible and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself how incredible it feels and to tell myself it’s all going to be okay.’

See, she had never told anyone in my family that she was feeling sick until November. So this morning was a bit of a revelation for us. We may not always get along (rarely, actually) and we definitely don’t ever see eye to eye, but I’ve got an immense amount of pride in my heart for the woman. My mother is the strongest woman that I know. She started down cancer and she won. Now she’s here to celebrate a birthday, but also conquering the past twelve months.

And honestly, this birthday, I’m reminded how grateful I am that she’s still here, too. Now I’ve got to teach her how to pack for two weeks in Europe in only a carry-on bag. Send help! lol

Happy Birthday, Mom. (I know she doesn’t know about this blog, so writing that on here is more for sentiment than anything else, but I wanted it to be said) Here’s to many more bithdays ahead.

Flights are booked.

I know, I know, I know. Save your money. Be responsible. Do the right thing. Don’t be frivolous. I hear it, I hear you and I understand. I don’t care though.

I’m going.

I haven’t told anyone. I don’t think that I will until a day or two before the trip. Honestly, it’s my business and not theirs.

I’m a firm believer that if human beings were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.

The largest Ancient Inland Rainforest on Earth

Nestled in the heart of the British Columbia interior is the largest ancient inland temperate rainforest on earth. The watershed of the upper Fraser River has given rise to a unique inland wet-temperate rainforest; a forest ecosystem that combines attributes of both the coastal wet-temperate rainforests of British Columbia and adjacent boreal forests of Alberta and the far north.

Though forests are plentiful in British Columbia (close to 25% of the earth’s temperate rainforests are in BC), this particular region of the province is something special. Showcasing trees that span five meters in diameter at their base, reaching hundreds of feet towards the sky, densely packed to canopy vegetation and plant life found nowhere else on earth, it’s estimated the trees in this forest range between 1,000 – 2,000 years old.

Though this land has been protected as provincial park for several decades, in 2016 a portion of the park was turned into a hiking/walking trail to teach people the importance of rainforests in our ecosystem. What a perfect place for Auntie Vee to take the little chickens for an adventure! Their dad works 5-5 on Friday’s and mom had to be in court, so I had my niece and nephew and we went for a day hike.

Without further adieu, here are some unfiltered photos from the largest ancient inland temperate rainforest on earth.

It was quite a rainy day for an adveture. But hey, there’s something poetic about finding rain in the rainforest. The kids loved it, and me, I’m always happy to experience just how vast this planet truly is and remind myself what a beautiful corner of this world I come from.

FYI: Flying standby is incredibly convenient.

11:00 pm, Northern Sunsets.

I’ve been away on a sneaky holiday in a sneaky location for the past week. It was exactly what I needed – to get away from reality, just for a few days. Though it rained the entire time, though everything didn’t go according to plan, though there’s always a ‘what could have been’ floating around the back of my mind, it was an incredibly calming, much needed week away.

For the first time ever, I flew standby for this trip. I’d always wanted to try flying standby before but have never really had the opportunity. It’s a luxury awarded to employees of airlines and their friends/family. Luckily, on of my connections decided to use his standby pass for me.

After five days, four standby flights, three airports and two time zones here is one list of things to know about flying standby:

  • It’s cheap. Hella cheap! For a trip that regularly costs roughly $1,000 Canadian, the entire trip’s fees were just airport taxes. I’d travel every trip this way, if I could.
  • It’s convenient. If you’re not needing to be anywhere at any given time, flying standby means you can show up at the airport whenever you want to and hop on any flight that happens to have an extra seat.
  • If the plane isn’t full, you have the opportunity to sit in your own row without paying an extra fee. One of the planes I boarded was only half booked. Not only did the airport gate attendant assign my seat to my own row, she assigned my seat to a row that didn’t have anyone around (four rows in front and four rows behind). You can always ask. It never hurts to ask!
  • If the plane is full, they will put you in whatever seat remains – which can include premium and plus seating. The second flight I got on was full. I was the last person to get a seat on the plane and the last seat available was premium seating… a seat/ticket that those sitting in paid an extra $500 for. I got it for free! Premium seating included having free drinks and a flight attendant waiting on us the entire flight… a perk I’ve never had before in my life as I’ve never booked a premium fare.
  • If the plane is full, you’re waiting for the next one. If you’re in a large airport, this might not a big deal. Another flight could be leaving for your destination in an hour, in which case I recommend grabbing some Starbucks and relaxing. But, if you’re in a small airport in a smaller city, this could mean several hours to a half day of waiting. This could be kind of a pain in the butt. It all depends on what type of traveller you are.
  • You can’t really check a bag. If you don’t know that you’re for sure getting on a flight, checking a bag would be rather stupid. Your bag will get to the destination and you just might not. For that reason, I highly recommend only bringing a carry-on bag and not paying for a checked-bag.
  • If you have connecting flights, you won’t know if you’re getting on them until you get there. You won’t know if you can get on flight two until you get off of flight one. If you’re a nervous/anxious traveller, this might not be an ideal scenario for you.

All-in-all, if you’re a laid back or easy going traveller and you have the opportunity to fly standby, I highly recommend it. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and packing in a carry-on promotes the minimalist lifestyle we all dream of finding on holiday.

On the other hand, if you get nervous about flying, anxious about connections, fearful of lost baggage or any of the other worries travellers experience, I would say that flying standby might not be an ideal option for you. Some people really don’t want to have to worry about anything so booking flights 5+ weeks in advance is ideal for them.

If you know someone who works for an airline, or you just have the opportunity and want to try it, go for it! Sneak away for the weekend, or for a longer holiday. Everybody needs a little more adventure in their lives.