Eucalyptus, Thanks.

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Final three “Thank you” spring botanical designs.

One week ago a good friend of mine was married at a beautiful ceremony at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Gardens. Spring plants blooming in all their glory and all the guests were given full day passes to enjoy the gardens, overall a lovely way to spend Victoria Day.

Rewind three months earlier, my friend asked me to make her wedding thank yous. I was honoured, and it spurred a flurry of creativity that ultimately became a bestseller for me. After some discussion, several mock-ups and a  browse of her Pinterest boards I was pretty sure I had the design down.

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Eucalyptus “Thank You” mock-ups and colour testers

Eucalyptus, geometric designs and spring flowers led my designs and eventually brought the three different images that will be going out to guests very soon. This took me back to watercolours which I have not used often over the past ten years as I’m usually working with acrylics. There were quite a few late nights in March and April. Once I got the bug for these I kept going with the flow and more kept coming, not to mention I also signed up for the Etsy Artisans craft fair hosted by my local chapter. It may not seem like too much to accomplish in a month, but I already have a full time job so it required some careful juggling and sourcing of a good printer.

Then suddenly I was getting orders for these cards, and realized some areas of my distribution plan were a bit lacking. I didn’t really have packaging organized, or proper shipping costs, which because problematic when I got an order to ship more than 10,000 km away. I have most of the kinks worked out now, it helped that I discovered I could use my husband’s baking scale to weigh the packages. Needless to say, they have now traveled far across the globe as well as locally and are available through my Etsy page.


Shop Geometric Eucalyptus “Thank you” Cards

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And then the sun came out….

….and tricked us into a false sense of “Spring”, but I guess that’s our own fault forgetting how unpredictable April is.

So, I few weeks ago I planted veggies and some more a couple weeks after. Low and behold they came up at virtually the same time, because we suddenly had a heatwave. That’s beside the point, my plant babies are pretty cute right now, I can only hope  they actually produce something.

Lettuce, Mustard Green, Rainbow Swiss and Kale in the far pot, a week ago

 

There is a bit of a background story on this, so we live in a North East facing suite, which means not much sun. Which sucks for me since I really love having a garden, so I have gotten quite creative with this little space. Initially though I wanted to get a plot in the community garden, which at the time had a wait list of 50 people. That was a year ago and I stupidly didn’t put my name on it until now; now that list is 140. At the rate they currently have for turnover that means I might wait 5 years. So, clever me I thought maybe the landlady would let me plant some sunny plants on the South side of the building (where there is an amazing space). Unfortunately, the property management company that owns the building is particularly irritating to deal with and she had to say no. Mainly because she is tired of dealing with their antics, I mean these guys hardly do the minimum for longtime tenants, they only care about the renovated suites since they are charging sometimes twice as much rent for them. I know why they do it, I mean from a financial point of view it makes sense, from a human point, not really. Our building isn’t new, and those “new” suites aren’t actually better, they just look pretty. But they still have the same old balconys, the same single pane windows and the same weird heating system. Greed, that’s all it is.

 But my plant babies are ok and I might at least get a delicious salad out of the many greens that will definitely thrive. As for the building, I’m working on that. Any dealings I’ve had with the property management company have been bad and all I can do is feel for my landlady and all the crap she puts up with. One final note on the weather, that heatwave ended pretty quickly and it got a whole lot colder ( but then 24 in April is  record) and rainier. The plants don’t seem to mind too much though.

Of Food trucks and new beginnings

After watching the movie “Chef”, my fiance has wanted a food truck. I can see why, that movie made me hungry, inspired, but mostly craving a cubano.  It did make me want a lineup causing busy like hell food truck, and a social media page full of delicious photos of the food we would make. I saw the movie described as food porn and I would have to agree, its right up there with Mostly Martha *, Chocolat and Eat Pray Love (I admit it… and the only part of the book I managed to read was Italy and only because of the food).

The thing about chef is, although it doesn’t look easy, the guy has the start-up cash and the backing to get this food truck going. He also has free “marketing” labour in the form of his son. So yes, they make it look doable and far less terrifying than the usual starting of a small business. That’s how they can look like this:

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Happy, with a bustling business selling cubanos in the south. But travel back to 1996 Ireland, and you might remember The Van. Also about food trucks, but that one ends up being driven into the ocean to save a friendship.  There was definitely no sugar coating it there, they look like tired Irish people trying to make some money with with fish and chips. If you haven’t seen it, you might at least recognize a certain Star Trek character, the guy who came after Scotty. I digress, but I sometimes thing my own food truck would end up more like the one in The Van, than that of Chef, and it would be me driving the truck into the ocean. the_van

So, after the movie, I kept hearing about food trucks for a few weeks and then it kind of disappeared from discussion. Which brings us to today, as I find myself researching food trucks and licensing costs.

* Now, a quick rant. Mostly Martha is definitely a movie that always makes me hungry, and the story has me in a better mood by the time I finish watching it. However, dear America had to go and ruin the charm by creating No Reservations, which follows such a similar story it could hardly be coincidence. Why do they do this? Is it really so hard to read subtitles?

 

Granville

I walk Granville street most days, and over time have gotten familar with who sleeps in which doorway or under what awning. There are couples and singles, lost people, people who didn’t mean to end up there, but they did. I can’t say I know their stories, but I know who is quiet, who to walk past quickly, who I wish I could help and who seems beyond help. Granville is usually less busy, and something about it feels better to me than Burrard or some of the others nearby.

When I walk to work, sometimes I feel like I’m invading their privacy, like I’m peering through their bedroom window. Catching glimpses of their lives. There are couples who sleep in, curled together under sleeping bags. There are the ones who are up already, but still groggily looking at each other. There are those who are already up and cleaning their few belongings, ready to move on.

A dog is curled under one of the sleeping bags, only his head and front paws sticking out. He sleeps peacefully next to his owner who is still fast asleep. There is also a guy with a cat, but I don’t see him often. Being homeless and alone, from everything I can see, is worse than being homeless with a companion.

People have their spots and I see generally the same people every day. Sometimes a new few emerge, and then disappear the next day, missing kid signs pop up (or don’t) and life moves on. I wonder sometimes where they go? Most of the awake homeless residents seem to be cleaning up their sleeping areas there are always those who seem to wander, semi aimlessly like they haven’t actually gone to sleep at all. They walk with a lost and confused look trying to find a fix, maybe they didn’t sleep and maybe they aren’t even homeless but they are always a little unnerving. There is always an agitated sense of desperation that follows and I honestly don’t know how to react, so I generally just don’t.

Was Vancouver always like this? It has certainly had a reputation for a while, but just seems like it can’t get worse. And then somehow it does. The housing market keeps going up, renting becomes unnafordable and those who were clinging on by their last pennies can find themselves homeless. Nothing justifies the cost of living here, weather cannot cause a doubling in housing costs, or at least it shouldn’t. Even so-called “affordable” housing sits well above what many can afford. Why should the poor and lower middle class be pushed out of the city centre? It’s the diversity of the city which gives it life. If everyone is busy just barely getting by, what is left? You find a downtown like Vancouver with the extremes of wealth and poverty living on top of each other. In my opinion this is a recipe for disaster. Maybe not now, but in the near future. Less and less decisions are made based on long term plans, but rather on how to make the most right now. Everyone has fallen victim to it at some point. When my property manager decides to increase the rent on incoming renters by 30% this is a very short sighted approach. Suddenly a crappy building needs to attract people who can afford that, but they  are so often transient and desperate people who will pay anything. In our particular building, many suites around us have been renovated, but only cosmetically. The building is still poorly ventilated, there is mold in some of the suites, windows have not been replaced since the 60s and are still single pane. It’s only a bandaid fix and because those cosmetic changes are done cheaply they will fall apart before anything else. But they don’t care, it’s making some money now, even though these suites take twice as long to rent out. It’s not surprising though since there are other suites in the neighbourhood for less that have had structural upgrades done. Anyways, that’s my two cents and a bit more rambling than necessary.

 

Last Winter

I’m sitting in Nelson the Seagull, drinking a coffee and eating an overpriced mediocre danish. Nothing warrants the prices, but the coffee is good and the atmosphere is calm. I have made the mistake of asking the price of the bread they make. 8$.

Across the street I watch a homeless couple cosy up behind a kids wagon before shooting up. The woman laughs and hides her face. They sit there, they never stop fidgeting. He flips through a notepad, she scratches at her head. All the while, sitting outside a gated building. The wealthy and the bums living side by side.

A few blocks up on East Hastings, the worst of it converges near pigeon park. I walked through it today, reminded of a crowded bazaar where the vendors are drunks and addicts, and their wares are “found” items and drugs. As I walked through that block, I realized among them I was alone and suddenly feeling vulnerable. So I held my bag close,stone faced and walked through the crowds.

The homeless couple are gone now and my cappuccino is finished. Not quite time to leave yet though, I’m warm and the place is getting busy again.

A father and daughter sit across from me, there is a strange vibe with the man. He seems just a little too attached to her, they sit a little too close. But who am I to judge.

I don’t understand this city, how can so many people end up marginalized, forgotten and left to rot while others buy 8$ loaves of bread and 12$ sandwiches? Where is the middle?