It’s Okay Girls…

I told two rather frightened 14-year old girls that they could go into the house as the cop approached us in the driveway. I asked them to take in the melting ice cream cake as he explained to me that “it seemed strange how we were double parking” in front of our house.

Looking like 3 deer in the headlights that he just tried to run down, he conceded without asking for my drivers license. It must be a slow night in West Vancouver.

Here’s the birthday cake I designed for Jaden with the famous photo that broke Twitter as Ellen tried to set a record for the most re-tweets ever as the Oscars. Jaden loves film, and I love Jennifer Lawrence. We were only a Photoshop session away from a solution.

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I Know the Hamster is Dead

Yes, the kids went out of town and their pet hamster died. I am currently a live-in-nanny, and although pet life support is outside of nanny jurisdiction, I did feel a little bad. Their dad was supposed to taking care of it, but this post is not about their hamster dying.

I inherited  my mother’s OCD tendencies, and I run a tight ship, especially in the cheese department. The cheese is sealed in a air-tight container and pre-cut into very square pieces. I know how square they used to be, because when I cut them, if a corner crumbled, I would cut it into a rectangle and eat half.

You can imagine how horrified I was to find teeth marks in the corner of the top square of cheese.

The father and the son were the only ones in the house, and I know it wasn’t the son because all he eats in junk food. It certainly was not the hamster, which means it was a grown man who bit into a piece of cheese, and put it back into the container.

I previously had to approach him on a similar subject. I had asked him about the half dozen gnawed off strawberry tops that went back into the fridge with the other strawberries.

His response was that I am a difficult person to live with.

I know, just ask the hamster.

Not a lot of things genuinely make me queasy…

Not a lot of things genuinely make me queasy…

 

Drinking before Noon

WineFest: Open to the public. This year anyways…

Vancouver WineFest 2014

“I never drink wine before noon without expecting something terribly exciting to happen.”

In an email I sent to Megan, that was our precursor for Vancouver’s WineFest Blind Tasting Challenge.

Megan is in the wine industry, but I checked the “consumer” box when we arrived to our event at 10:10AM on a Wednesday. We were 10 minutes late, and greeted by a very serious room of professionals who informed us that the challenge was “well under way.”

When we bought tickets, I was picturing blindfolds and giggling. Instead, I found myself in front of a very technical test. For instance, did you know that Slovenia has their own oak barrel methods, and it is reasonable to ask a person questions about wine based on that fact? I am not even sure that I expressed that statement in a way that makes sense.

I did not let it get me down too much, and I focused on the aspect of the test that I could: finishing on time. Keeping in mind that we were late, I walked a precarious line of drinking fast enough, but not so fast that I looked like a redneck.

Our challenge was at the Culinary Arts School, which is quite fancy. It certainly did not strike me as a place that would allow you to drink straight out of the water bottle on the table. It was after that consideration that I accidentally poured my water into the spit cup. It struck a few laughs, but not the drunk kind.

Anyways, I was well on my way to trying 8 new wines before noon.

After our blind wine, we had wine more while talking about wine, then they gave us a gift bag with a bottle of wine. Finally, it was time go eat something, and the restaurant had half off of all their wine, so I did not drive home. In fact, I probably could not have even found my car if I wanted to drive home.

Granville Island is the Hogwarts of parking spots and it took me a couple laps around the Island in the morning to find my car. Thankfully it was not towed, dude.

This is the part where they revealed what the wines were and everyone giggled because we were drunk before noon.

This is the part where they revealed what the wines were and everyone giggled because we were drunk before noon.

Oops, last to leave. Party faux pas…certainly didn't notice at the open bar.

Oops, last to leave. Party faux pas…certainly didn’t notice at the open bar.

Mine Rescue Style

IMG_0161 photo 1 photo 3

I took a mine rescue course. It was five exhausting and rewarding days that sort of defined what it is to be on a team.

Everyone had their strengths, weaknesses and doubts that we helped each other through. We learned a lot, and we laughed more. I have confidence in topics I didn’t even know about prior to the course.

My brute strength may have been below par, but rumour has it I scored 100% on the course.

They didn’t actually tell us our scores, but apparently they were telling the next batch of mine rescue candidates.

However, I think their statements lacked some truth –  I only scored 92% on the written part of the exam, perhaps I made the rest up in charm?

Buried

It’s easy to feel alive up here. I am spending my holidays in camp and we have been building an amazing snow cave and today we began phase 1 of our gingerbread fortress, complete with a helipad and remote control helicopter. Last night I cut Jessica’s hair, we went on another underground mine tour and my biggest worry is that I have been laughing so much lately I think I have lost my sense of maturity.

Here are some things I have learned about building snow caves:

(1) Build your entrance lower than the main part of your cave so that the hot air remains trapped

Entrance

Entrance

(2) Candles are a great source of light and will not rapidly burn up your air supply as I had imagined

Oxygen depleting mood lights

Oxygen depleting mood lights

(3) Smooth out the roof with a bowl to avoid drips

(4) If you’re unsure about the width of your walls, put 3 meter marker sticks in them

(5) When applicable, mark off your snow cave with bamboo sticks so that you will not be run over by a Snowcat

(6) A dome shaped roof increases the stability of your cave

(7) You can always fit another person in

Camp Dad & John

Camp Dad & John

(8) Don’t wear an oversized toque when trying to dig in confined spaces

(9) Avalanche shovels are great, ice picks help too

(10)               You can’t hear anything if you’re not inside the cave. It’s a great place to yell secrets.

We plan on sleeping in it one night, and mark my words, it will happen.

Receiving her Christmas tree by helicopter

This tree is about 15-20 feet tall and Lucas welded the star for the top. It is in the middle of camp next to our snow cave, giving a bit of a ski lodge plaza atmosphere.

This tree is about 15-20 feet tall and Lucas welded the star for the top. It is in the middle of camp next to our snow cave, giving a bit of a ski lodge plaza atmosphere.

Geoff has been a good friend and a pilot in our camps for 3 years and I hope his email regarding the Christmas tree that he picked out, chopped down, and has flown into our camp will give you an idea of the comradeship and adventure I get to experience at work.

Here is the story of the Christmas tree that has caused so many holiday smiles in our secluded winter wonderland:

______________________________________________________________

Hi,

I have located a tree, which says a lot about me and my looking abilities since I live in the middle of a forest FULL of trees, but this tree is exceptional!!! Exceptional in that it is not a swamp spruce… which is really all that is growing in this lousy valley.
This fine tree that I have found seems to be quite nice, relatively speaking, it is bushier than most trees. It does have one small flaw though… its pink. Actually its not pink, but it does have a flaw…
the very very top appears to be not as bushy as I’d like, but it extends higher than the natural taper and you can cut it a bit to make a wonderful looking, symmetrical and text book shaped tree. Once modified it will probably accommodate a star, or an angel, or a giant piece of core with a gold nugget embedded in it quite nicely and it should look smashingly fantastic. Any who, Jaret and myself will go and cut it down tomorrow evening and prepare it to fly. When I say Jaret and Myself I mean that I will watch Jaret from the safety of the road as he tries to wade through the 4 foot deep snow, filling his boots and getting his feet and socks all wet and cold. I will hold the pair of snowshoes incase I need to go help him out of the tree well after. I hope that you guys will be as happy about this tree as I am, I guess if your not as thrilled then you can go cut down your own tree in that hellish cursed mountain pass with no green vegetation in it other than the broccoli in the kitchen fridge!!

Love, Geoff

P.S. – I don’t really think that it is a hellish cursed mountain pass with no green vegetation in it other than the broccoli in the kitchen fridge, but I thought that it would be a great way of saying if you don’t like the tree I picked then you will have to find your own. I actually really love it up there and miss the place and the people 😦

Not in Cabo San Lucas

Oh well, I wouldn't have wanted to go through US customs covered in explosive powder anyhow.

Oh well, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through US customs covered in explosive powder anyhow.

A friend advised me “you’ve got to go outside of your comfort zone to find adventure.”

I’m Nicole Freaking Fisher!!!!!! I couldn’t even bat an empathizing eye when people looked at me like I was crazy traveling through Ex-Yugoslavia by myself. I think I was getting tattooed in Serbia this time last year.

I booked a last minute trip to Cabo San Lucas today and after an afternoon of turmoil and anxiety I cancelled it. Now I am laying in bed next to a packed suitcase and I’m tired.

I think the conventionality of it frightened me and I didn’t want to spend $2,000 on a tequila bender to go to a wedding by myself.  In homage to all the beautiful and unique places I have been in this world, it wouldn’t have been respectful to enjoy a week in an expensive Mexican resort, would it have?

As with many things in life I’ll just cling to my absurdly high standards and wait for a better adventure. It’s going to happen, just wait.

As Oscar Wilde put it:

I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom.

On a brighter note, I took my grandparents to the most incredible 50th wedding anniversary dinner. I have honestly never seen them enjoy a meal, or maybe anything that much. “That’s the way food is meant to be eaten” they exclaimed over our Italian tapas at Tavola.  My family very rarely exclaims.

When I gave them their handmade card labeled “to the happiest couple in the room,” my grandfather almost got up declaring, “we should go find them.”

Fortunately his smile wrinkles give his and my Nana’s happiness away, Nana doesn’t get wrinkles.

In good company

Camp friends are unique because we don’t put any effort into showing up and we don’t ask where each other’s lives are going, or pry about where each of our places are in the world. We show up with wind swept hair, rosy cheeks having  had weathered the same storm…then we just talk about the little things.

The details we know about each other are only ones we have shared and perhaps some intel about dumping a snowmobile on a snow drift. We get to live with people who become like family without having their own set of standards and benchmarks for you.

It’s like a public defense putting effort into changing outfits and fixing hair before picking up a bottle of wine to meet friends in Kelowna or Vancouver. The formal updates on progress and happiness over dinner challenge your memory of what it is to act like yourself.

Our subtle moments in camp end up meaning more than anything.

Tonight we lovingly mocked our mechanic for saying “way cool,” because that’s what he “heard the young people say.” Then we clinked our lemon water glasses to cheers because we thought we were so clever to add the lemon pulp before noticing any preexisting floaties in our glass.

Winter, and all the perks

Finished making my boot knife with an antler handle (mine is on the right)

Photo from our road trip – in front of the salmon glacier

 

View from my bedroom window

 

More icicles

 

I went on a heli photo shoot to document a clean up of a nearby camp – this is the portal entrance at our mine site

Driving the Chieftan (a piece of equipment twice as big as my studio apartment in Bangkok)

I have always loved road trips and crewing in and out of camp is becoming something I really look forward to. You get to spend a whole day or two traveling with someone new in a very positive, very company expensed road trip.

We had an unbelievable amount of fun arriving to camp this shift. The four of us never stopped bantering as we tried to leave town with our series of never ending last stops. I met an incredible Hungarian lady in the Walmart parking lot and after we finally made it our of Terrace, we made two glacier photoshoot stops, got “Hyderized” with a double shot of moonshine in Alaska and then bought necklace at the pawn shop.

Then I worked a 23 day shift and did it all again in reverse.

I’m sitting in the airport and in the past 24 hours traveling out of camp I have had some inspiring conversations with really great friends. We went out for dinner in Stewart, spent the night then had a slightly nauseous road trip to Terrace.

The best part of camp is spending so much time with people you probably otherwise wouldn’t.

The slew of board games I ordered arrived on my last night and we ended up playing for 3 hours. Even our mine manager played, a couple operators, a miner, our avalanche tech and a cook. I laughed myself to tears.

The highlight was when Dave was trying to make us guess a word with his clues: “I’m hanging off a cliff………….I’m shaving my own back!”

Then he looked at our mine manager and said: “You are……”

Dramatic pause as our mine manager stares him in the eye and says “Fucking awesome” in his British accent.

This quickly escalated into over-dramatizations of our mine manager hanging over a cliff, shaving his own back whilst gritting his teeth and exclaiming his new nickname, Fucking Awesome.

The word we were guessing was “independent.”

Board games aside, this shift we also put our snowmobiles back into circulation. Our mechanic made me a custom windshield and wrote “FISCHER” all across the shield. I am a little bashful about it in case people think I did it myself but it was a very sweet gesture and it makes me smile when I see it.

Of course we also visited the ice caves again.

I also learned a lot about explosives and managed to get past airport security today with a jacket that I certainly wouldn’t have wanted them to swab.

An old time miner made me really proud when he said that in his whole career, our camp is by far the best one he has ever been to.

Blondes have more work

I put in some discreet “ombre” blonde highlights because every girl has gotta’ do it once. I’m happy with it, but hell! What a lot of work. I used to boast that my hair looked its best when I went to sleep with wet hair and let it dry overnight, now it looks like a complete rats nest.

I actually straightened my hair this morning at 4:30AM.

So apart from having a small piece of my soul die for all the extra work it takes to maintain my bleached hair, I like it. However, in the future I’ll stick with my sun kissed brunette locks.

I have a new respect for blondes. It’s incredible both that they are able to maintain an entire head of blonde hair without it all falling out, and that they have the temperament to do so.

Here’s my hat off to you, blondes!

I prefer the snooze button and a sleep in…any hairstyle demanding maintenance is too much for me.