Free Hugs

Sunday, October 22, 2006 by Michelle

I was just at a website called Free Hugs, about a movement to reach out and (you guess it) hug people. From the website,
"Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives." Check out the video on the site; it's very heartwarming.

Additional background information can also be found at Sydney Morning Herald website.

10 km

Sunday, October 15, 2006 by Michelle

Today... (huff, puff)... I ran... (gasp, wheeze)... 10 km... (pant, puff)... for the first time. Oh my god!

To be honest I actually wasn't huffing and puffing (except on the hills), but my legs were pretty jello-like when I was done. I had originally set a goal in June or so to do this by the spring of 2007, then when I reached 7km this summer I revised my goal to the end of the year. Here it is mid-October and I reached it! Yeah for me!!

Landes (Southwest France)

Friday, October 13, 2006 by Michelle

The last roll of photos from our trip to France is finally developed. Oh, how I wish I had taken more of the coast!

Bordeaux
We spent a day in Bordeaux, which is a city we really enjoyed visiting. The entire downtown area is either car-free or has extremely limited car access. As a result, throngs of people are out on the streets and it was wonderful to be a part of that. Vancouver has a lot to learn from Bordeaux; our local government and merchants don't seem to understand that pedestrian-only zones create a sense of community and dramatically increase the shopping in the areas where it exists (I saw it myself in Bordeaux!).

Moliets
The surf in the Moliets area was spectacular, but it's really hard to be able to provide perspective when taking photos of the wonderful waves. The photo of the sunset I took shows a little bit of it, as does the one of me playing at the beach, but doesn't really capture just how fabulous the pounding surf was. There were times that the drag created when the waves were receding was shocking; more than once I went ass-over-teakettle, which was undignified but a helluva lot of fun really.

Landes Forest
I have not found a photo online or on a postcard that captures the feeling I have for the Landes Forest. I wish I would have taken a few hours and trapsed through one of the nearby pine groves for a good photo or two.

I recognized instantly upon seeing the forests here that they are planted and not natural; in fact, it was planted over 150 years ago to tame the swamp lands and sand dunes for human usage (a nearby river would change its course as much as 35 km in a given year, so it was impossible to build here). The huge monoculture pine forest is almost eerie - the trees are all the same type and about the same age, they're all carefully spaced, the undergrowth has a limited ecology with only two or three species of ground cover. It felt devoid of life in many ways, but it was also captivating at the same time.

Vancity $1 Million Award

Saturday, October 7, 2006 by Michelle

Atira Women's Resource Society has been nominated for the Vancity $1 Million award. I encourage (beg!) everyone here (and their families, friends, colleagues, etc.) who are Vancity members to please go to Vancity's website before October 13, 2006 and vote for Atira.

From Atira's Website:

The Vancity Award will enable Atira to construct a new building for the Maxxine Wright Community Health Centre, located in Surrey, including an emergency daycare, 36 units of transitional housing for women and their children (0-6 years), and a community kitchen. The Community Health Centre, open since September 2005, provides accessible pre- and post-natal health care and social supports for pregnant women and women with babies/young children considered to be at-risk due to their struggles with substance use, mental health diagnoses, and experiences of violence/abuse. Prior to its opening, many women facing these issues in Surrey 'fell through the cracks', with many never receiving any pre-natal health care. The Community Health Centre is currently operating out of a very small building on the property purchased by Atira in 2005 in order to develop this project. We are already bursting at the seams due to the enormous need for comprehensive women-centred health and social services and the planned daycare and housing.

Vote for a Healthier Future!