Sunday, February 28, 2010


It's my last shift today, and I'm pretty emotional about it! I've had a blast, over-all, and had a great time with Hailey, too. I'm going to take tomorrow off to 'scoop and re-group' and pack up, and then I'll head home to Victoria on Tuesday -- I've often said that I love to go away... but I love to come home, too, and I'm really looking forward to settling back in to my Victoria life. (For one thing, I haven't got that much knitting done -- two pairs of socks, and about 8" on a lace shawl)!

I meant to post this photo several days ago -- it's a memorial that 'appeared' in the village to the Georgian athlete who died on Opening Day:

I took this shot in the Village yesterday, and it sums up a lot for me -- the Celebration plaza on the left, folks wandering on the 'Stroll,' typical Whistler building architecture, some team members standing together, and the mountain in the background!

Better get moving here.... :)

Friday, February 26, 2010


First of all, thanks for all your comments, both negative and positive (and public and private) about my last missive. I consider myself blessed to live in a place where we CAN all have opinions, and voice them -- and to have friends and family who are thinkers, too!

Day before yesterday Hailey and I went for a little drive around Whistler to check out people's expressions of Olympic spirit -- and we found plenty!

I have a day off today (only two more shifts!), and Audrey has finished her volunteer commitment already, so we'll take her back to the ferry this morning. It's been fun, having three of us in a 20' x 20' space! :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
~ The Olympic Creed, written by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games ~
Ever since I made the decision to come to Whistler to volunteer for these Olympics, I have struggled to articulate, even for myself, how I feel about them.

There’s been lots of criticism of these Games – mostly about the exorbitant amounts of money being spent to stage them (and the fear that we-the-taxpayers will be footing the bill for them long after they’re over), but also about the military-style security, the inconveniences to the folks who live here year-round, the impact on the environment, the long-term effects on local and regional businesses. The negativity, from those who don’t support these games, is loud and clear -- and it overshadowed so much of my experience, originally, that during my first week here, I felt like going home. I didn’t blog about this, but I had come here as a proud Canadian and a happy and enthusiastic volunteer -- and ended up almost ashamed to admit that I was one of the volunteers driving those official IOC gas-guzzling pollution-emitting SUVs around town. In lanes created especially for Olympic vehicles that locals are not allowed to drive in. And parking it in places where locals can no longer park. And with only myself in it.

In the face of all the opposing arguments, my mumbled and vague “I’m doing it for the athletes’ was beginning to sound pretty lame, and it was definitely a reflection of my own deep ambivalence about the whole event.

Then a few things happened …

1. I attended the torch relay ceremony here in Whistler, and along with 10,000 others, witnessed the lighting of the torch.

10,000.People from the community, the region, the province, the nation, and from countries all over the world, who came to watch the torch (symbol of all things Olympic-spirited) being passed from a current Olympian (Julia Murray) to a former Olympian (Steve Podborski) to a future Olympian (Tyler Allison).

And that was just here in Whistler. That torch relay showcased hundreds of stories, all of them inspirational, right across this great nation of ours.

2. I watched the Georgian athletes march into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony only hours after their team-mate had died in a training accident – carrying their flag, proud of their country and prepared to compete in spite of their profound grief.

3. I had a short, and surprising, conversation with a Whistler-Blackcomb Mountain employee during which he reminded me that the country has been in a deep recession for the past year and a half … and that, because of these Olympics, thousands of BC people have been able to stay employed throughout it.

4. I’ve been watching the little feature stories about various athletes on all the major TV networks. Like the one about the skier who broke his neck two years ago, and he’s back competing in these games. The one about the competitor whose older brother with Cerebral Palsy is his hero. The one about the local mom who has two offspring in these Games and who has dedicated her life to supporting them. The one about the hockey players getting up at 2 a.m. to get ‘ice time’ to practice.

And that’s just the few stories I’ve caught. There’s dozens more.

5. I was present at the Ice Dance performance where a 22-year-old and a 20-year-old had the skate of their lives.

6. I had a senior IOC member from Switzerland in my car the other day who, on the way up to the beautiful Callahan Valley Olympic Park venue (where the cross-country and ski-jumping events are being held) described her love of the Olympics and told me about her experience of being in the audience when our Canadian moguls champion got his gold medal. She cried, she said, because the IOC also has such a bad rep due to scandals and politicking and over-spending, and on and on – but she cried because when she saw the medal being placed around Alex’s neck, she “remembered why I spend all this time away from my home. I do this for Alex, and for all the Alex’s in the world.” She went on to say that one of the most amazing parts of her job (having been to three Games now, and already helping Russia with the next one) is the realization, every time, that the Games is the ONLY platform in the world with so many participating countries not only not at war, but CELEBRATING THE SAME THING.

6. I watched Joannie Rochette, one of over 2600 athletes participating in these Games, skate her ‘personal best’ in the women’s figure skating short program last night – three days after her 55-year-old mother died suddenly of a heart attack while arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter’s performance.

Personal best. Personal best.

This morning, when I woke up, it hit me.

In a world where most of us – the masses, me included – never reach our personal best, never even TRY to reach our personal best (hell, if I break a shoelace before 9 a.m., I’ll have a bad day for sure), I’m witnessing over 2600 human beings who not only have dedicated their entire lives to becoming the best they can possibly be, many of them have done it (and continue to reach for it every day, no matter what), in spite of obstacles and burdens the likes of which have put thousands of others in jails and other institutions all around the world.

Where were you at 19, 22, 25 years of age? What were you doing with your life? I know where I was, and what I was doing …. and it’s kind of pathetic to even think about now, in the face of all these incredible human beings I’m watching and hearing about this month, and the equally incredible families, friends, organizations and governments that support them. People who dare to strive for personal excellence in their lives, and help and support others with those same goals.

Why wouldn’t I want to celebrate that ambition, that persistence, that positive attitude, that determination, at the individual level? Why wouldn’t we ALL? And why doesn’t every nation INTEND to regularly come together to celebrate these kinds of role models and heroes all the time, and to continue creating community in the ways I’ve seen here repeatedly for the past two weeks?? What an amazing, amazing planet we would all inhabit if the ‘Olympic spirit’ that I see at work here, was global, and all of the time.

Couldn’t every one of us stand to go a little ‘"Faster, Higher, Stronger?", as individuals, as nations, as one planet?

You bet I support the Olympics – now more than ever!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that I would be sitting in an Olympic stadium, in the 9th row up, watching a Canadian Gold Medal Figure Skating competition.

But that's where I was, last night, when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Canada's first-ever Gold Medal in Ice Dancing!

Here's how it happened!

Hailey owns her own professional organizing business, but she occasionally works as a 'temp' Nanny for visitors to Whistler. She had a nanny job night before last, and the folks happened to mention that they had tickets to the Ice Dance event, and weren't going to be able to go. Did Hailey know of anyone who might be interested in buying them?

At $450. Per ticket. Since they were in that 9th row, and about a hundred feet from the 'Kiss and Cry' area and all.

Well, um, no, she didn't. But when she arrived to nanny for them again yesterday morning, they still hadn't sold the tickets. So, as she and I had discussed the night before, she offered them $100 each for those tickets.

They accepted. Never in my wildest dreams! She had to ask them to get home from another event early enough for us to drive in to the city, and I had to get off my volunteer shift early, but ...

Pacific Colliseum, 4:30 pm, Monday, February 22nd. There we were, complete with the $10 Canadian flag we'd bought outside the stadium!

The whole evening was absolutely magical, of course, but the 'Grand Finale' was our very own Canadian pair, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Here they are warming up...

And the performance of a life-time for them...

And then the wait in the 'Kiss'n'Cry' area, which was less than 100 feet away from us!

So Tessa and Scott's dream came true last night -- and being there to see it, live, means that mine did, too!

Monday, February 22, 2010


The last two days have gone quickly -- I've worked both days, and had interesting folks in my car (German IOC members and members of the Italian ski team, for example!) so that makes the day go well. Yesterday I was standing outside a hotel here waiting for my guests and noticed this right across the street....

It was tethered, in a nearly-empty parking lot, and I was able to get within 25 feet of it with no security around. Seemed a little odd to me!

I work today and then have two days off -- Hailey and I are planning to hang out in the Village tomorrow, visit Canada House, and maybe see if we can get in to the Medals Ceremony/concert!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Last night when I got back from Victoria, we went to one of my favorite Whistler spots for dinner ... the Mongolie Grill. Apparently Queen Latifa was there the previous night, and while we were waiting for our table, so was some of the CTV News crew.

After dinner Hailey convinced me to stay in the Village (I would have been happy to get back to Hailey's and my jammies, but she knows me pretty well, and she knew she'd never get me back into town at 10 pm) to see the 'Fire and Ice' show, a nightly event at the base of Whistler Mountain. I was cold to the core by the time I got home, but it was sure worth it!

In the lead-up to the show, they were projecting images on to the hill...

I also got some more shots of the Winter Wonderland that is Whistler Village....

I was so cold when I got home, and I'm sure I was over-tired, so I found it difficult to get to sleep -- so today's been a looong day, on about 4 hours of sleep! I was made a team leader today, and I successfully dispatched 10 cars out to a total of 26 calls. (When I told Hailey that, her response was, "How many were unsuccessful?") :)

Friday, February 19, 2010


I woke up on Wednesday morning to the sounds of seagulls, a tugboat moving around the Upper Harbour, and the wind in a neighbour's halyards -- these are the sounds of Victoria, and I love it!

Besides, it's completely spring here...

Two days goes fast, so I didn't get to do everything I would have liked ... I only spent a few minutes with Mischa and Jason, and didn't even get a chance to call friends. But I did get the monthly marina paperwork done, and renewed a prescription and worked on some Fibrefest plans, so that was all good.

Most importantly, I spent some quality time with my favorite little people on a beautiful spring day:

While we were at the beach, our friend Sri called, and came and joined us...

Most of you will remember that Sri's wife Susan, my closest friend, passed away in October ... well, Sri had been diagnosed with cancer just before Susan died, and after an unsuccessful surgery, he is now here in Victoria taking radiation at the cancer clinic for the next six weeks. He's in good spirits, and it seems to be going well for him, but I'm saying my prayers!

And making the time to go for a dinghy ride with my favorite skipper:

I'm back on the 9 a.m. ferry for Vancouver and Whistler this morning. I've had a great time here at home, but I'm excited about going back, too!