Joe and I have been together for almost four years, but because we met in South Korea, the first two years of our relationship took place in Asia. We refer to this time as ‘the Korea bubble’ because we felt like we were in our own world. The early months of a relationship typically include meeting each other’s friends and family, but aside from hanging out with my dad and sister, who happened to visit me in Korea while I was dating Joe, we didn’t have that opportunity. Our move to Portland and an immigration process that restricted how many times I could re-enter the US made it difficult for us to visit Canada, so until last May, Joe had only been to Victoria once, to meet my mom.
Going home always starts with a visit to my mom’s, and is almost always followed by hanging out with Adam and Antonia.
For those of you reading who don’t know them, they are my super talented musician friends, currently expressing their melodic awesomeness with their band Thieves. I could go on, but I’ll save the details for my upcoming interview with Adam. We’re gonna chat about music, life, transitions, the future…the sort of ground we’ve been covering in our lengthy conversations over the last 15 years or so, but shared here, on the blog. This is an interview I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m really stoked we’re making it happen.
So a couple days after we returned to Victoria from Salt Spring, Joe and I drove out to Adam’s mom’s house for a BBQ. Tucked away off a narrow road in Saanichton, about 30 minutes from Victoria, this house is the stuff dreams are made of. (I rarely use clichés, but in this case, totally necessary.) Once you arrive, you never want to leave. We call it The Vortex.
One of the best parts of growing up in Victoria was being so close to the Gulf Islands—an archipelago in the Strait of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. If you’re into camping oceanside, hiking through dense forests covered in moss, checking out paintings and pottery in artist markets, hanging out in cozy cafes (that serve organic, delicious everything) and buying fresh berries and flowers from little roadside stalls, the Gulf Islands are pretty much heaven.
The one closest to Victoria is called Salt Spring, and it’s a place my brother and I visited with my mom when we were kids. She hadn’t been back in decades, so for her 60th birthday, we decided to surprise her with a weekend trip. I found this super cute cottage called Tantramar…
Last spring, one of my favourite writers/bloggers/inspirational women Danielle LaPorte, best-selling author of The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map, announced she was starting a magazine. And calling for submissions.
This was the lowdown:
We want your stories, your wisdom, your light. This is our first round of submissions for the inaugural issue of DANIELLE Magazine. This magazine-meets-journal will be unlike anything you’ve seen or read. High-minded, full-hearted, gorgeous — both in PRINT and digital!
I immediately wanted to be a part of it, of course.
Submission categories included “The Best Thing I Ever Did”, “Kindness You’ve Encountered”, and “I Used To Be…Now I Am”, all of which evoked some cool ideas. But there was one theme in particular I felt compelled to write on…
Happy Holidays, everyone!
While Cleo gazes at the tree and tries to figure out what it all means (or plots attacking it), Joe and I will be having a cozy couple days at home celebrating the season with good food, fresh west coast air, classic movies, and a few glasses of red.
Christmas Eve plan:
Eat: Caesar salad with roasted garlic dressing (from the Rebar cookbook), potato + apple bake with cheddar cheese, + these peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies
Drink: Hot apple cider, red wine
(I haven’t seen this before, but Joe says it’s amazing.)
Christmas Day plan:
Eat: Caper + tomato omelettes, bruschetta with red onion marmalade and goat cheese, mushroom risotto, + Joe’s self-titled ‘banana oat peanut butter coconut carob chip healthy cookies’
Drink: Hot apple cider, red wine
Hike: Through Forest Park
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (This might be the part I’m most excited for. Clark and the crazy house lights! Cousin Eddie! The squirrel on the loose! Love this movie.)
We’re stoked to get to spend our first Portland Christmas just relaxing and enjoying our time together. Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s filled with a lot of love.
Everyone, thank you for visiting my home here on the internet over the last year. Knowing you read and enjoy the posts means so much to me, and keeps me inspired to write more. I’ve got lots of ideas for 2014 content, and hope you’ll continue to stop by, say hello, and just be the generally awesome readers you are.
This is my mom, Donna.
Today she turns 60.
It’s a huge milestone, and I’m really proud of her for reaching it, because she’s had a tough road, this lady.
Without going into a ton of detail, let me just say that my mom is a survivor. Her health has been a battle since her early 30’s, and she’s spent more time in the hospital, undergoing surgeries (on her bowels, her back, her arm, her hip, even her elbow), than I can begin to describe. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood are of visiting her at the Victoria General, tucked up next to her in the hospital bed, wishing I could make the IV tube taped to her wrist disappear forever.
There have been times when my brother and I didn’t know if she’d pull through. But she did. Always.
My mom is by far one of the most unique people I’ll ever know. In the eighties she wore leather pants to pick me up from kindergarten. She knew so many people everywhere we went in Saskatoon that I thought she was famous. I used to say to the kids at school, “My mom is Donna Tait. Have you heard of her?” She loves to laugh, loves to talk about the scent of things, loves to point out the variation of shades of blue she sees in the sky, in the stones. She’ll likely try to guess your astrological sun sign within minutes of meeting you. (She’s often right). She can sit down at the piano and play for hours, composing, her whole body swaying as her hands fly over the keys. She’s worked as a nurse in the delivery room, as a care assistant to mentally handicapped adults, as a foster mom. She’s crossed the desert in a van in Morocco and looked for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. One year she baked four cakes to make a life-size guitar cake for my brother’s birthday. (It was so big we had to store it in the laundry room; we were eating cake for days.) She always thinks she’s going to win money, says, “Won’t you be surprised,” when I suggest she not get her hopes up, again, for the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. She’ll stay up all night every night for a week to paint a picture she’s giving you as a gift, getting the colours just right, the feathers of the bird or the leaves on the stem of a flower. When you share something from your life with her that’s made you sad, she will cry, will feel it as though it’s her sorrow too.
On her birthday (because I know she’ll be reading this), I want to thank my mom for some of the essential things she did in raising me.
♥ Told me she loved me every single day
♥ Trusted me and gave me the freedom to make my own decisions
♥ Taught me to follow my instincts, to never settle, to say thank you when I’m a guest in someone’s home and when I leave a shop (even if I don’t buy anything), to carry my keys in my hand if I’m walking alone at night, to read medicine cards, to believe in signs, to share my feelings (and ask others about theirs), to listen and to forgive, to cut the stems of flowers on an angle, to eat peanut butter toast with salt, pepper, and cayenne for breakfast. (If you’ve never tried it, I recommend.)
♥ Encouraged me to travel, to see as much of the world as I can, to do what I love. And to write about it.
Mom, thank you for everything you’ve taught me and given me. You have earned every second of your 60 years, and I am so grateful you are here.
is wishing you a happy, heart-full birthday!
Everyone—my mom believes in the power of thought, so if you wish, please take a moment and send some happy, healing, birthday love her way—she would really appreciate it!
It’s been two months since Joe and I got married in our awesome typhoon wedding ceremony on the Oregon Coast. And three days ago it was American Thanksgiving. We gave thanks with stuffing, green bean casserole with crispy fried onions, a bottle of Malbec, a couple Deschutes Brewery beers, chocolate cake, and truffle ice cream. It was a serious treat. We also indulged in an episode of Breaking Bad. (Okay, two episodes. We might be slightly possibly a tiny bit addicted.)
On the note of gratitude, one thing I am very thankful for is the amazing week we spent following our wedding, travelling up the coast. Our vision for the trip was lots of outdoor time walking on beaches and in forests, reading in cozy cafes, sitting around campfires, curling up together in yurts and cottages, and just enjoying being together as newlyweds. And that’s exactly what we did.
If you’ve never been to the Oregon Coast, I can’t recommend it enough. Read more
Sixteen years ago, while I was working on the boat docks in Eilat, Israel, I met a kiwi guy named Josh.
He was a scruffy backpacker who that day was recovering from a rather wild afternoon in the desert. We became instant friends.
You know when you meet someone, and just have that feeling they’re going to be really successful at whatever they do? Josh told me he wanted to be a photographer and travel the world. He was somewhere around 20 years old at the time. I thought, Yep–he’ll make that happen.
So I’m really excited to share with you the adventure my kiwi friend, who has since become not only a photographer but an excellent filmmaker, has embarked on. As I write this, Josh has just flown from London to Oman on the start of a 24-day journey to 10 different countries, working with National Geographic.
Crazy, right? And yet, totally not.
One evening soon I will tell you the story of our wedding day. It won’t include views from the top of Cape Perpetua or a look at the little stone shelter where we had planned to exchange our vows. There will be no golden-hour images of us in a forest filled with Sitka Spruce or walking on sand, tide turning in. What you will find is a bouquet made of roses and dahlias, chosen by flashlight at dusk. A covered bridge on a country road. Rain-soaked leaves. Two beautiful friends. And us, in love, in the storm.
(Photos by Melissa McFadden Images)