(Instructions: Start a note, cut-and-paste this, replace my answers with your own.)

Three names I go by:

Howdy Canada!

Howdy Canada!

1. Canuck
2. The Great White North
3. North of 49

Three places I have worked:

1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2. Royal Canadian Mounted Police
3. Calgary Stampede

Three places I have lived:

1. 24 Sussex Drive
2. Military compound in Afghanistan
3. The North Pole

Three TV shows I watch:

1. Slings and Arrows
2. The Mercer Report
3. Corner Gas

Three places I have been:

1. Vimy
2. Rwanda
3. Space

Three people who e-mail me:

1. Michaëlle
2. Barack
3. Sasquatch

Three of my favorite foods:

1. poutine
2. maple syrup
3. Nanaimo Bars

Three things I would like to do:

1. Stop apologizing
2. Learn the Chicken Dance
3. Win the gold medal in hockey at the 2010 Winter Games

Three things I am looking forward to:

1. The first aboriginal Prime Minster
2. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games
3. The day that a Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer make the same salary as a Vancouver Canucks goalie

(Your turn: Three Things for your hometown?)

I’m going to try to make it a tradition at These Boots to give away a great travel-related prize at least a couple of times a month.

Did somebody say martinis?

Did somebody say martinis?

I already have next week’s contest lined up…and suffice it to say, it involves martinis.

Thanks to Fiona Burrows who wrote about bonding with her dad through hockey to win tickets to see Slap Shot at the Hockey Nights in Film series at the Vancity Theatre on Monday night.

And thanks also to Rahel Bailie who won a random draw for a pair of tickets to one of four performances at the Water’s Edge Festival this weekend.

Thanks for playing and come back soon!

If you love jazz and world music, have I got a prize for you: a pair of tickets to this weekend’s Water’s Edge Music Festival at the Evergreen Cultural Centre on the pretty shores of Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam, BC.

Beginning at 9:30 am on Saturday, March 7 and for 25 non-stop hours, more than 300 performers will strut their musical stuff during 25 events  at seven indoor and outdoor venues. The question isn’t whether to attend, but who to attend to: will you catch R. Murray Schafer’s Music for Wilderness Lake featuring 12 trombonists playing to one another across the lake? Or 2008 National Jazz Award winner Jodi Proznick and her quartet? Grammy-nominated Cuban jazz great Bobby Carcasses? Or maybe the midnight drum circle?

And that’s just for starters…you’ve got to have stamina for this marathon swim in deep musical waters…


Just leave a comment telling me which of the following four shows you’d most like to attend on Saturday, March 7.  I’ll do a random draw for a pair of tickets (valued at $50) tomorrow (Friday, March 6), at 5 pm. Remember to leave contact info! 

Saturday, 3 PM: Vocomotion brings to life music from many cultures and traditions

Saturday, 6 PM: Jodi Proznick Quartet 

Saturday, 8 PM: JUNO-nominated Brad Turner Quartet

Saturday, 10:30 PM: Bobby Carcasses and AFROJAZZ from Cuba

Be quick and good luck!

There’s this little shindig in the works ’round Vancouver these days: the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Maybe you’ve already heard? 

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

Let's get this party started ©VANOC/COVAN

I am old enough to have lived through–and worked at–this city’s last big party: Expo ’86. And this next event is unspooling pretty much the way that previous one did: initial optimism and collective goodwill, followed by major outrage, minor scandal and moderate pessimism, and capped by a couple of months of triumphant flag-waving and generous back-patting. 

We’re in the middle phase (outrage, scandal, pessimism) now, which makes it a little easier to accept that I didn’t get tickets to any events. (Who wants to go to those darn ol’ medal-round hockey games anyway?) But I know in my heart that the currently empty bandwagon will quickly fill up again…and I won’t be on it. I’ll be stuck at home watching the spectacle of a backyard Olympics on my small-screen TV.

Which is all by way of explaining why I did a really risky and potentially embarrassing thing last night: I applied to be a volunteer performer during the special ceremony events at the 2010 Winter Games.

What can I say? I like to sing. I like to dance. I play the guitar and the piano (enthusiastically if not well). I went to theatre school. I will turn 50 during the Opening Ceremonies. I want to write about the Olympics from the inside out. I want to feel one more time that little shiver of excitement that I felt in 1986 when Princess Diana stepped off her yacht and onto the site of the Canada Pavilion (now Canada Place) and said hello to all the breathless, bilingual, Alfred Sung-suited hosts and hostesses.

It won’t happen of course. But it felt good, when I pushed the “Submit your application” button, to think what it might feel like if it did: my very own personal gold-medal experience… 

Want to fight me for the spotlight at the 2010 Winter Games? Get your application in now!


Aboard BC Ferries' Queen of Capilano

Aboard BC Ferries' Queen of Capilano

Surrounded on three sides by ocean and spattered like a Jackson Pollock painting with crystalline lakes and historic rivers, Canada’s magnificent landscape is perhaps best viewed from its myriad waterways. Sure, you could take in the iconic wilderness scenery on a luxury cruise through British Columbia’s Inside Passage. But if you’re pressed for time or money, there are plenty of other ways to experience Canada at “see”-level. 

Highly recommended day-trips:

  • For the prettiest views of the historic harbour in Halifax, NS, make the 12-minute ferry crossing between Nova Scotia’s capital and the city of Dartmouth. 
  • For centuries, visitors have found respite from the urban bustle of Toronto, ON in the lushly wooded Toronto Islands, just a short hop across Lake Ontario from Canada’s largest metropolis. Year-round ferry service departs from the docks at the foot of Bay Street. The return trip offers great photo opps of the city skyline.
  • At the historic junction of Manitoba’s mighty Red and Assiniboine Rivers is Winnipeg’s premier tourist attraction, The Forks. From May to September, the River Spirit water bus plies the scenic and tranquil riverfront. Or rent a canoe or paddleboat and explore at your own pace.

Have I missed any? Let me know!

The best guidebook is the one you write yourself

The best guidebook is the one you write yourself

“For every traveller who has any taste of his own, the only useful guidebook will be the one which he himself has written.” 

                                                 -Aldous Huxley

No kidding. During our home exchange to Paris last summer, our best tips didn’t come from Fodor’s or Rough Guide or Lonely Planet but from the pile of hand-picked and well-worn books, magazines, newspaper clippings and hand-written notes left for us by our exchange family. 

I vowed we’d do a similar favour for our Berlin exchange visitors this coming summer, and was delighted to run across a new offering from the good folks at Moleskine, creators of the sleek little Italian notebooks favoured for centuries by artists and other creative types.

Moleskine City Notebooks –the “guidebooks you write yourself”–are currently available for dozens of international destinations, including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. Each blank 3.5 x 5.5″ 228-page leather-bound notebook features the Moleskine hallmarks: an elastic wrap-around closure, an accordion pocket for receipts and such, and ribbon placemarkers. But you also get detailed city and transit maps, a street index, blank pages for notes and diary entries, indexed pages with space for shopping, dining and entertainment recommendations, and tear-out loose notes.

Includes a detailed city map

Includes a detailed city map

At just over $17 CDN (from Amazon.ca), this is the best guidebook investment a committed home exchanger will ever make.

Buy one for your home city and fill it in during the year, then leave it behind for your guests with a request that they add their favourite finds to it. And then buy another one for your destination city, fill it in during your exchange holiday, and leave it behind as a gift–to be added to by other guests over the years.

Related post: 10 tips for a successful home exchange.

Hockey is a big hairy deal around our house. It’s like a white noise (well, sometimes more like a black noise) that hums along in the background between October and April. And while I myself am not a hockey-head, I cannot escape its influence: since he discovered the sport in Grade 5, my now-teenaged son’s moods have been inextricably linked to his team’s divisional standings. I find Adam’s loyalty to the Canucks rather endearing: he will not abandon them, even though he knows they will inevitably break his heart.

Slap Shot

Slap Shot

So how do I–the woman who once embarrassed her son by cheering for another team’s goal because she didn’t know they switched sides after each period–plan to bond with my hockey patriot this spring break? Easy: we are going to the movies. Hockey movies.

We’ll be heading downtown to the Vancouver International Film Centre to catch a few of the 11 hockey-themed flicks on offer from March 9- 20. The Hockey Nights in Film series runs the gamut from beloved national classics (The Rocket) to Hollywood joyrides (Slap Shot) and cinéma vérité documentaries (Junior). And at just $10 a ticket, it’s way cheaper than a hockey game.


Is hockey a part of your family dynamic too? I’ve got a couple of pairs of tickets to give away, so leave a comment here with a hockey-related family memory and I’ll give the best story-teller a pair of tickets to see either Slap Shot on March 9 at 7 pm, or Junior on Thursday, March 12 at 8:45 pm.  (If you blog and would like to write about this contest or share your memory on your own site, please just leave a short comment below to direct me back to your own post).

Remember to leave your e-dress or blog URL so I can contact the winner. Contest closes Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8 pm.