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I bought the tickets last May, as a gift for my daughters birthday. Last week I asked her if she wanted to take one of her friends to the show and she responded with, “no, you’re alright”. I guess I’ll take that as a compliment, although at the time it felt more like a mercy comment. The rain held off all day… right up until we got off the bus at Deer Lake Park. We made our way through the security with our two bags of rain gear and blankets and headed over to stake out our real estate on the grass. I immediately made a B-Line for the beer tent, grabbed a glass and came back to join Emma on the grass.

These Kids Wear Crowns

The first band up was These Kids Wear Crowns from Chilliwack and it turns out the lead singer is my brothers friends nephew….haaaa…..kind of a funny coincidence. They were pretty good. We liked how they executed the cover tunes. I particularly like the way they covered the Beyonce single. A little bit of a punk edge to Single Ladies. They put lots of energy into their show.

By the time the next act came on, we were both wearing our rain coats and were pretty much wet and my beer was slightly diluted. We wandered up and got a couple of crepes…yummmy and ran into two of Emmas friends and one their moms.

Emma, Alex and Nikita

I really enjoyed the second act. It was Daniel Wesley and I will be purchasing his album soon. I had heard of him, but was unfamiliar with his music. Turned out to be right  up my alley.

The main act, Hedley, came on and the girls all rushed down to the front area while Cathy and I stayed back and watched, enjoying the fresh coldness of the falling rain and our beers. I have to admit that I really enjoyed Hedley and I was pleased to discover that they are from Vancouver. Indeed, all three bands were from the area, which was a really nice treat. Hedley, though, did seem truly Canadian, especially with the plaid shirt and the campfire!

Spotlight Operators

I love this shot of the back lit spotlight operators at work.  We met up with the girls after the show and Emma and I said our goodbyes and jumped onto our bus home. When we transferred and ran to catch the next bus, Emma realized she had left her wallet on the previous bus. Luckily it was still in the bay and she was able to get it. We had to wait another half hour for the next bus which was a bit of a bummer, but, oh well….All in all it was a good night, good music, fun bus trips and good company, and  we were at home and in bed by midnight.

I was in the Everything Wines Store a couple of weeks ago and I ran into Ivan, who works there and has helped me select great wines in the past. He told me about an evening of Peruvian Food Tasting and Wine Pairings that he was preparing to do in my neighbourhood. Well, those are two of my favourite things, so, I was in for  sure. Two of my friends and I went tonight to a small restaurant by the name of the Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe. There were about 20-25 guests for the pairing. It was really great because Ivan, the host gave a very informative presentation about Peru and it’s rich cultural history, and we heard about the wines from several reps that attended.


Luis and Carmen prepared some amazing dishes in Peruvian tradition, starting with  Ceviche de Pescado which was paired with  Pisco Sour, which is not a wine, but a cocktail containing pisco brandy, egg whites, lime and some other magic ingredients. It was a fresh start.

One of my favourites was the Causa de Pulpo  potato dish with octopus… paired with Olivares Rose wine.

Causa de Pulpo

The Arroz con Pollo chicken served with cilantro flavoured rice was amazing and  the Salvalai Primitivo Flaio only helped to enhance the already wonderful flavours.

Claudio, specializes in Pollo a la Brasa, which we got to sample tonight along with Ferrandiere Marselan. It was the most flavourful rotisserie chicken…. and oh so juicy!

Lana and Rina

Rina took some pictures… sure hope they turned out better than mine did….

Dessert consisted of the most delicate little pastry that reminded me of a very light shortbread with a delicious rich dark filling made from browned sweetened milk. With the desert wine, it was an even richer experience…

OK… the food, the wine… all good!!  But, the whole evening was made fantastic by great friends, conversations and laughs!

If any of you would like to try out some great food, I would recommend the trek out to Boundary and Hastings to the Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe…but, make sure you only come out on Friday or Saturday, because they aren’t open the rest of the week!

If you want more details about the pairings and food and also way better pictures… be sure to stop in and see Ivans’ Blog!

I spent all day yesterday out in Richmond at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in a master class with designer Julian Roberts. He was doing the class on Subtraction Cutting, something that he invented and has spent his life perfecting. He is very abstract in his thinking and as a result, I think everyone came away feeling inspired.

Subtraction Cutting forces you to look at the garment from a different perspective… the inner, or negative space, as opposed to the front and back view only. You start with the full cloth and take away parts. Instead of deciding what to keep, you decide what to get rid of. It’s quite a leap for someone who has always been dependant on rulers and calculations!

All we used was a sleeveless bodice block and a paper circle…. and two 3 yrd lengths of fabric. The two fabrics are sewn together to resemble an extremely long pillow case… one end open.

Julian demonstrates one idea with paper

Bodice block is positioned where Julian wanted it.

Julian demonstrates, using black fabric on one side and white on the other.  This makes it easy to see what he’s doing.

Negative space is removed

Julian joined the front SS to the back SS with a line that he eyeballed, then cut the negative space away. The piece that is removed is called the “Subtraction Pattern”. Just in case you like the final outcome so much that you would like to duplicate it. Otherwise, these creations are very much “one of a kind”.

Now he just pulls the two shoulder seams together and joins them at the machine. Then, starting at the armhole, he joined each SS. Then he let the rest of the fabric just fall.  Because of the way he laid his bodice on the fabric, the white portion of the “tube” ends up curving around to the front in a natural swirl.

Now the fun begins… Julian starts to decide where to incorporate the negative spaces where the body will pass through. Each space that is created is joined to a second space to form a hole on the inside of the garment, while the outside begins to transform in a truly organic way…. billows, folds, pleats, twists…. each one different and determined by the designers choices of fabrics and placement of the holes.This is the dress that Julian created in about an hour by removing 7 holes in total.These are the two fabrics that I chose… (what I had in my closet that didn’t clash too much)  It’s a cotton spandex, so it’s pretty heavy compared to what some of the others chose to use. I started by putting curved corners on my “pillow case”, and placing my bodice so that it wrapped around to the other side, and so it would have that curve across the front. I think I used  7 holes for mine as well….That’s me lurching forward in the centre of this shot. Probably a good thing, that way you can’t really see that I’m squeezed into a dress that’s 2 sizes too small!

Leslie and Julian

Here I am with Julian, and below is the dress I made on the proper size form.

A Tight Squeeze

Ok… so, you can see me squeezed into it after all….

The possibilities for this technique are virtually endless from what I can see. I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use this new knowledge! Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with some new avant-garde Buggy Bag®!

Anyone who lives in a large-ish city probably has a version of what we, here in Vancouver call the “Science Ball”, otherwise known as “Science World” or even the “Giant Golf Ball”.  It’s real name is the “Telus World of Science“… whatever the name, the knicknames are for obvious reasons.

Science Ball

All adults who have gone to visit a science centre with or without the kids, know the torture of really wanting to try the cool things out, but, feeling that they should let the kids go first… usually it’s all experienced through watching the kids.

Friday night I went with 3 friends to “Science World After Dark“, an evening set up for adults only. They had comedians and even served beer and wine. It was such a fun evening that I will for sure make a point of going next time.

Leslie the "Zen Master"

Here I am pairing off against one of my friends… whoever can push the ball toward the other person, is the more relaxed of the two.  Evidently, I’m the most stressed out of the 4 of us… or just not able to shut off the stuff that’s bouncing around in my brain, because the ball came to my end every time!  The groovy headwear makes this one worth it all though…

This was cool…. it works with two different weighted pendulums that you move with your feet… let them continue to swing with their own momentum, to create the drawing..

Leslie Flying

I know this isn’t the best shot, but, at least it clearly proves that I can fly…

Here, Rina demonstrates her superb powers of attraction….

Apple Hologram

Here I am showing the difficulties involved with Hologram Fruit… it’s impossible to grasp…

seeing double

I also crashed on a virtual slalom ski course at least 6 times and raced in wheelchairs with my friend…(I lost)

I’ve been so busy with costume work lately, but, not able to really talk about it too much. I’m making a leather coat at the moment, and as I was starting the sewing, I realized that, because it’s already been seen on TV, I can safely talk about what it is and what show it’s for.  It’s to replace one of the existing coats that was burned by the SPFX guys (thanks Darren!) in one of the episodes. The leather is proving to be a little more difficult than usual, in that I can’t seem to get the seams to flatten out. Usually I glue the seams down with transfer tape, but this particular leather is treated with something that is making it resist the glue. It’s also making my eyes burn something fierce! Quite strange I usually like to work with leather, but this one is not at all like most…. indeed it’s down right disagreeable!

Cutting out anything is always a challenge when the young Toopi feels that she should be involved. Usually, she’s diving under the patterns or fabric… this time she’s just acting as an extra weight.

Toopi "helps"

Here is a shot of the double jetted flap pocket during construction. The close up shows how spongey this particular leather is.

constructing the double-jetted flap pocket

topstitching underneath lower jet

you can see how thick it gets to sew through when there are many layers

The shoulder pad gives support and structure to this coat that has no canvas or fusing in it, while the lambswool in the crown of the sleeve helps to soften the head of the sleeve.

This is the collar and lapel and also shows the inner welt pocket and lining.

I just gave this back to the Assistant Designer, who will now take it to someone to do some really great heavy duty Keyhole Button Holes…  This coat weighs at least 15lbs….just a guess, based on how hard it was to wrestle it around the sewing machine! Luckily, the actor that wears it is a strapping tall fellow!

The show is Sanctuary, and the character is John Druitt, played by Christopher Heyerdahl.  The costume designer on the show is the very talented Christina McQuarrie, who has a long history in Vancouver-based Episodic TV.

Also, just wanted to add that all of the pics on this post were taken with my iPhone!

ableism |ˈābəˌlizəm| (also ablism)


discrimination in favour of able-bodied people.

I found out today, that yesterday was Blogging Against Ableism Day. I missed it… in fact, today was the first time I’d heard of it.  I looked into it and found that most people blogging are using Ableism and Disableism (Ablism & Disablism) interchangeably. In reality though, they are polar opposites, because if ableism is “discrimination in favour of able-bodied people… wouldn’t disablism be discrimination in favour of persons with disability?  Yes, it would be… and indeed there is no such word as disablism….. Why, you ask?  Well maybe because there isn’t any discrimination in favour of people with disablity, at least that’s my guess. And that is why we need to help raise awareness of ableism.

How can we look at someone else with empathy? Who do you feel unconditional nonjudgemental love for? What makes you feel that way about that person?

I have worked at answering these questions for myself. What I found out, was… that by remembering the answers to those questions whenever I’m challenged by someone being rude, or just my own impatience, it really helps me to open my heart and mind toward the person. All of a sudden I feel love for the person, and in turn, I feel good, and hopefully even make the other person feel good too.

I used to work with someone who was very well-liked and respected by not just few, but, by everyone she came in contact with. She didn’t even seem to realize how much she was loved and admired by the people that worked for/with her. One day I asked her how she managed to always stay calm and kind in the most unimaginably stressful situations. She answered by saying, “I just treat people the way I’d like to be treated”.

What does this have to do with people with disabilities?… Nothing really, I just think there would be a whole lot less of this thing called Ableism, if more people would open their hearts and just let others be themselves, without judgement.

If you’d like to read other blogs on this topic there are many listed here.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010

Last year a friend asked if I wanted to volunteer for a Vancouver event that helps deserving secondary grads that can’t quite swing the “costuming” aspect of the event. It’s called the Cinderella Project, and yesterday was my second year volunteering as what I like to call a “bird”… although I’m probably the only one that thinks of us that way. You remember in the Cinderella cartoon, where all the little birds flit around her and sew her dress and fix her hair, etc….

I worked with a team of seasoned costume/fashion construction experts. There were about 8 or 9 of us there in the alterations department. The girls would come up one at a time, Deb would do the fitting of the dress and make notes. The dress would then be altered and hung up on a rack where the girl and her fairy godmother would pick it up.

Here I am... looks like I'm just standing around watching Mel work... I'm sure that wasn't what I was doing....

Maybe this was taken just after I melted a hole in that red dress hem with the incredibly hot iron…… I do look rather worried! That was last year. I didn’t burn any dresses this year!

This is a huge event and these kids literally get outfitted from head to toe…. hair cuts/styles, make-up, undergarments, dresses, tuxes, shoes, and accessories.

Then they get a professional picture taken. I don’t get to see many of the guys, because I’m doing the dress alterations, but, the girls are so happy, they glow.

It’s a really rewarding event for everyone that get’s involved. I will be doing it again next year.

“Always was a skier, since I was about 8 or so. The fresh air, the snow, the rush of adrenaline… these are a few of my favourite things! Out with my family every weekend, which was no small feat for my parents since we lived in Kingston, Ont. usually it was a weekend event because the drive was more than 2 hours… into PQ, NY,  Maine or Vermont. Boy, we were lucky kids! When I moved away from home, I found out that it was a super expensive sport and I didn’t have the same opportunities for many years… until, I moved out to Vancouver. Mountains everywhere, and you could get to them in 45 minutes or less! I was in my bliss.  I bought myself brand new equipment and went out as often as my poor paying job would allow. About 5 years of that and it became apparent that I had inherited the knees of my great grandmother… but, I wasn’t alone, my mom and her mom had also won the lottery! I wasn’t going to give in that easy and I bought myself a Brodie mountain bike and began commuting to work in an effort to build the muscle around my knees.

Two years, four tires, new gears, one “endo”, one broken nose and  roughly 5000 kms later, and I was finally ready to go skiing again. In October 2002 I told my friend Lana, I was ready to go to Whistler with her this winter! Then, at the end of November, I had a cycling accident on my way home from work, which resulted in completely shattering the top 6″ of my Tibia, severing the patellar tendon and the anterior cruciate ligaments. I lucked out and got this surgeon that was just about to leave Canada to work in the US. He did a bone graft from my left iliac crest bone and apparently he had some kind of an underground source for “skele-grow”, known in the doctoring world as “osteoset beads”. All this, a couple of shapely steal plates, and what looks like all the extra screws that happened to be kicking around at the bottom of his tool box (a couple look like drywall screws). Near the top, he had to put all the screws in at angles to form a triangular spot to stick the patellar tendon back into. The guy was genius…. look at this!

Leslie's Beautiful Left Leg

I spent most of my life being self-conscious about my legs. They kind of resembled  tree trunks. When I asked for advice my grade 10 gym teacher told me I would have to have my legs in two casts if I wanted skinner legs. I had what I had, but I tried to avoid dresses as much as possible.

The day after the operation, the surgeon sat beside my bed and told me that he had done the best he could with what he had to work with and that in every likelihood, he would be performing an amputation on my leg in the next three days. Best case scenario was that I would always walk with a bad limp. What he saw, was my face saying “uh, huh”…. but in my mind I was saying “f-you…not going to happen”! All I did from that point on was focus every bit of my brain into healing myself. I pictured the bone re-growing, and the tendons and ligaments re-attaching and healing. I pictured myself walking. I picture myself walking with no limp. And I pictured myself feeling great.

I was not allowed to flex my quad for 6 weeks, because of the tendon being so tenuously attached, but I had to start flexion of the knee joint within 4 weeks, so the new bone that was growing wouldn’t fuse to the patella. I rigged up a pulley thing and let gravity do the flexion work while I held the leg up with the other end of the rope from my wheelchair.

Three weeks after that I was in physio twice a week, and 3 months later I was at the gym doing 2 hours of cardio, one hour of weight training and topping it off with swimming, 5 days a week, every step focused on symmetry of motion. Seven months after the accident, I got on my bike and rode back to work…no limp what so ever.

The point of my story here, is that, I once saw my legs as ugly….. now I see them as a gift…. one of my biggest assets. Things don’t really change, only the way we choose to see them.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading off to Whistler to try my newer leg on the “Bunnie Slope” first time after 15 years! I can’t wait…

Ever wonder what it would be like to audition for the Dragon’s Den? Well, I took the Buggy Bag® Lap Blanket and Stroller Blanket today, and it was a lot of waiting with really cool people.

The day started out kinda funny because I was up until 3:30am fixing up a little mistake I made on the calculations, but I slept really solidly for the whole 4 hours. Got up and got ready for the day… shower, smoothie, and to top it off a Late. Hauled a baby stroller down the 3 flights of stairs at my place, and jammed it and the samples into my trunk along with my file folder including all the stats and info my friend Rina and I had compiled.  Just waiting for my friend, who is also heading down there to do her own pitch.

When she drives up we all leave for downtown Vancouver. I had been given the advice by someone who was on the show last season, not to show up until the time they say….. fine we’ll be there for 11am then. We get there and the room is already packed, which means, we have to wait through 48 other pitches. Red-faced I make the apology to my friend and her model, as I know that if we had come an hour earlier we would have been up in the 1st hour….. who knew how long it would take to get through 45 others. They are all pros working at the CBC, and it did go as fast as humanly possible. We were all seated at tables with our ideas and coffees, chatting about various things. I met some fun and interesting people.

After about 3 hours one of the people that works there came up and asked Wendy what she had and what her sales were last year. She was suitably impressed, as Wendy is the owner of PumpEase hands free pumping bras. they are not only a functional product, but also, practical and fashionable….. and she has sales….. lots of sales.

Then the woman turned to me and asked me what I’ve got. I pulled out the product and she said, it looks like a good product, what were your sales? I told her and she said that I should come back next year when I have greater sales…. I asked her if I would still get to pitch and she told me I was doing that right now! Turns out she was one of the producers…. anyway, that’s a good goal for me and I’ve got a couple of ideas about how to improve the sales…. if any of you also have any thoughts about how I can do that, let me know. It’s a useful and much needed product, and I intend get it out there to the people that need it, in whatever way I can.

I decide to stay and offer support to Wendy while she waited, and just hang out and enjoy the scene. By now, everyone has been there so long that, there is a much more relaxed feel in the air… almost jovial. By the time Wendy went in with her model Donna, she was feeling pretty good (as she should; she has a great product and it has a certain appeal in terms of  “show value”, if you know what I mean). When they came back they were excited. It was a good experience.

Who knows what the future holds for any of us, but, if we can just take each moment, as it is, and cherish it, it is all good!

Rina at the computer

Rina has been so much help to me through this. She does freelance marketing for small and start-up businesses. She also did the photo shoot with Jessica (see “photo shoot” post) or visit her blog at

Dragon's Den Audition Day

from left to right—- Donna (PumpEase Model), Wendy (Owner, PumpEase™),Leslie(Owner, Buggy Bag® Mobility Accessories), with the new Buggy Bag® Lap Blanket…. hot off the press….

Thanks for stopping by, love you guys, Leslie

There was so much negativity whirling around the whole idea of the Olympics here in Vancouver, that as it approached most people took on a typical “what will be, will be” attitude. Now that it’s finished, I can say with pride that Vancouver did a really fantastic job as a host city! Everything about our fine city was just…. well…. better, during the games. Traffic flowed quite well as did the beer and the people that filled the streets and venues. Wonderful art exhibits and performers were all over the place and the atmosphere was electric. But, what really clenched the games for me was the closing day. Imagine me, the hockey antagonist, getting up early on Sunday morning in order to claim my stool at the local pub! It just doesn’t get stranger than that!  And I had fun…. I even followed the game… took the utmost in concentration after the 3 pints, or was it 4?, but, I did it….. It was a great game and something to be proud of as a Canadian. It was really cool after the final goal when the whole pub broke into singing “Oh Canada”…. brought tears to my eyes.  And 14 Gold Medals! Wow…. Good going Canada! …now…. you deserve to be able to show off those giant beavers and moose!

I’m really looking forward to the Paralympic Winter Games! March 12-21  2010         Maybe I’ll even try to catch a sledge hockey game! Wheelchair Curling sounds amazing too.

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Buggy Bag® Mobility Products is dedicated to helping loved ones stay warm and dry while on the go. Buggy Bag® Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair blankets protect against the cold and wet, while offering visibility in low light conditions.

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June 2020

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