Putting a stop to seasonal stress

Update, Winter 2012:

This will be a grand holiday season here in Lynn Valley, starting with the Mollie Nye light-up and continuing over at the Christmas Tree Walk in the Village. That said, it’s not always easy to enjoy all the fun (and tasks!) of the season without becoming a bit … overwhelmed, shall we say? Here’s a solution that might help. The following piece is an excerpt from Wintertide, a book of holiday recipes and stories that’s on sale at Mollie Nye and online. We think it’s good advice!

Solstice Stressation

“Stressation.” That’s the word we coined when we were sitting around the table at the White Spot at our family’s annual “Eve of Christmas Eve” dinner on Dec. 23rd. What we shared beyond the bonds of blood and affection was a fed-uppedness with the demands of the season. Surely, with our shopping and baking and wrapping and constant cavorting, we were all missing the point.

And so it was decided. From henceforth, the Dec. 21 winter solstice will mark more than the defeat of darkness’s grip upon the earth. It will be honoured by the defiant cessation of stressful seasonal freneticism, and therefore be known as the Day of Stressation.

Forgotten a gift for the soccer coach? A sincere phone call will suffice. Haven’t baked your shortbread yet? It will taste all the better when you make it next year. Haven’t got as many stocking stuffers for the kids? They’ll survive.

We’ve all been there. A neighbour brings an unexpected gift to the door, and our first reaction is to smile through gritted teeth, say “You really SHOULDN’T have,” and immediately add “Get gift for neighbour” onto our mental to-do list. We take our well-meaning neighbour’s expression of comfort and joy, filter it through a self-created lens of guilt and expectation, and practically spit it back at them.

What if, instead, we said “How kind of you to think of me! Won’t you come in and share some of these cookies you’ve brought? I’ll put the coffee on.” And because we are committed Stressation adherents, we will have the time to sit and enjoy some shared time with our neighbour, because we are refusing to fret about things left undone.

Celebrating Stressation does require some advance planning. You will want to have your turkey, or other feasting staple, purchased before the 21st. Ditto a gift for your significant others. And yes, there will no doubt be a few last-minute tasks that simply can’t be done in advance – whipped cream isn’t known for its ability to stay perky for weeks in the fridge.
But the other stuff? Let it go. It’s traditional to wish for peace at this time of the year, and yet we refuse to make space for it. There’s simply no room at the inn.

But perhaps this is the year we’ll start to change our ways. Dec. 21, the Day of Stressation, has been marked on the family calendar, and at least some of us fully intend to honour its call. Would you like to join us? We’ll be the ones at Waves or Delany’s, sipping a gingerbread latte with friends, nary a shopping list in sight.

– By Clan McMordie-Trendell-Jensen

Christmas kicks in this week in Lynn Valley

By the end of November, we’ve usually endured weeks of cold, grey drizzle. I don’t know about you, but the wonderfully sunny fall we’ve had this year has meant that the impending Christmas season has sort of snuck up on me.

So perhaps the upside to this rainy Grey Cup weekend is that it has caught our attention and reminded us that Christmas is, indeed, on the way. And just in time, too, because in Lynn Valley the festivities really start up in the week ahead (which is currently forecast to be sunny, by the way!)

I won’t list all the details here, because you can find the ins and outs on our LynnValleyLife events calendar. But be sure to take in some of the highlights of the week ahead!

You can get in the mood on Monday with a by-donation concert offered up by your very own community concert band, the Lynn Valley Black Bear Band (they even supply free eats, but you do have to go to Kay Meek Theatre to get them!).

On Tuesday, the junior band and choir at Argyle will raise the roof with some seasonal tunes in the big gym, starting at 7:30.

Wednesday the 30th is the next holiday shopping night at the End of the Line Store at the top of Lynn Valley Road. Right on the edge of the forest, the general store/gallery is just the place to enjoy a hot drink and ponder which of the café’s crafts and curiosities would suit the people on your gift list. (Wednesday is also the day to pick up your poinsettia if you’ve ordered one from Mollie Nye House, by the way.)

It’s always fun to be in the thick of things when Santa – that’s right, Santa himself – flips the switch to light up Mollie Nye House in all its gingerbread glory. That will happen on Thursday, and there will be lots of other festive stuff going on at the house that night, too. (That would be the perfect time to bring along a pair of new socks, or men’s toiletries, or warm gloves for the St. Agnes’ Scouts Christmas hampers for the Lookout Emergency Shelter – Mollie Nye House has offered to be the drop-off spot for scout leader Ken Gregson.)

Christmas jollity continues on the weekend, as merchants and organizations decorate their adopted tree in Lynn Valley Village. The official lighting ceremony will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., and we hope you visit our LynnValleyLife tree. The team decorating elves have been busy indeed!

All this frolic will no doubt put you in the mood for the decking of your personal halls, and we hope you support the Lynn Valley Lions tree lot. Look for it in the parking lot of Karen Magnussen Rec Centre, starting this weekend!

Gilmour new to campaigning, but not to community

So what’s it like running for municipal council for the very first time? To find out, I cornered Lynn Valley’s John Gilmour in Delany’s and convinced him to take a break from pressing the flesh and handing out election brochures.

We found a corner table and he told me what his life’s been like ever since he stepped down as president of the Lynn Valley Community Association and threw his hat into the ring for North Van District council.

In some ways, this is nothing new for John – he grew up at the knee of mother Sheila Gilmour, a widely accomplished community volunteer in her own right, and John has spent many of his recent years helping usher events such as ValleyFest 2010, Lynn Valley Days, and community-planning workshops into our neighbourhood.

But North Vancouver District is a big place, and during his campaign John has learned the importance of having a team. “I have to really rely on them,” he said over ginger peppermint green tea (he’s currently abstaining from sugar and caffeine in a bid to keep his immune system strong in the lead-up to the election), “I just can’t be everywhere myself.”

Which is too bad, because John clearly enjoys meeting new people. He spends a lot of time in Delany’s North Vancouver locations, talking to people about their thoughts on civic issues, and is never happier than when he’s out knocking on doors. He’s been pleasantly surprised by the almost universally positive reception he’s received from strangers.

John thinks running for municipal office is actually quite welcoming to newcomers like him. There is no fee to run, and you need only two people to nominate you to get yourself on the ballot.

The big hurdle, of course, is unseating an incumbent. In municipal politics especially, voters often cast a ballot based solely on name recognition, despite not knowing a thing about that councillor’s views or track record. (Remember, you don’t HAVE to tick off six names on the ballot … if there are only one or two people you are familiar with and want to support, you are able to mark off their names only and leave the rest blank.)

But John does have a leg up in another area. Thanks to a random draw, his name will be at the top of the ballot, an advantage that is said to boost one’s tally by as much as five per cent.

But here at LynnValleyLife, we’re hoping citizens won’t be voting by name recognition or ballot position, but a good understanding of the candidates and their views on local issues.

Information about all-candidates’ meetings and advance polls can be found on the municipal website here: http://www.dnv.org/article.asp?c=764, and John will be holding a casual meet-and-greet at the Lynn Valley Delany’s Tuesday night (the 15th) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You can learn more about his views on helping residents live, work, play and retire all within their North Vancouver town centres, and check out his website www.vote4John.net for more information.

Running a campaign, whether for the first time or the fourteenth, takes a big investment of time and resources. Hats off to all the candidates, especially the new kids on the block.

LV Legion invites public to Pioneer Park

A change has happened since my childhood. Back then, Remembrance Day was usually marked by parents – the fathers, usually – taking their fathers to a cenotaph to honour fallen comrades while the rest of us stayed home. But today, parents are instead bringing their children to the November 11 ceremonies.

Across the country, attendance at cenotaph events has been increasingly steadily. TV news show crowds filled with young people – not just the Scouts and air cadets who have to be there, but those who are either there of their own volition, or brought along by parents who think it’s important their kids show their support.

Here in North Van, we’ve got a range of events to choose from, from the Maritime Memorial service in Cates Park organized by the Burrard Yacht Club, to the ceremony at Victoria Park, said to be the second largest event of its kind in Canada. (We’re proud to say our own Lynn Valley Black Bear Band will be performing there for the first time this year.)

Here in Lynn Valley, we’ve started our own Remembrance Day event in the latter few years. I recently ran into a past-president of the Lynn Valley Legion selling poppies in Delany’s, and he told me about the ceremony happening tomorrow at Pioneer Park at the corner of Lynn Valley and Mountain Hwy.

The Lynn Valley cenotaph event isn’t meant to compete with what’s going on at Victoria Park, he said. But what it does do is help those who find the crowds and parking at the larger event daunting – seniors, perhaps, or families with young children. It gives them a more accessible, shorter ceremony that offers them the chance to remember in their own neighbourhood.

There will be a small colour parade, a piper, some short addresses, words from a minister, and the moment of silence. People are asked to assemble at 10:45, and after the ceremony the public is warmly invited to an open house at Lynn Valley Legion on Lynn Valley Road.

I hope to see you at Pioneer Park tomorrow – with your kids!

Councillor Hicks gives us the village vitals

In banners and newspaper ads, we Lynn Valley folk are being told to “Rediscover Village Life.” Why’s that?
Well, those of you who follow these things know that it’s been a tough go for some of the initial merchants who set up shop when Lynn Valley Village was first unveiled a few years ago. It’s risky being the first storekeepers in a new, unknown area, and the world economy was conspiring against them, too. Some of the first businesses have done well – yoga mats and stretchy pants seem to be the prime accessories for Village visitors – but others, sadly, have had to shut their doors.
So the landlords – that’s you and I, come to think of it, in the form of North Vancouver District – have stepped in with a campaign to get more people exploring what lies behind the library edifice they pass every day on the way home.
Last week I had coffee at Delany’s with Robin Hicks, district councillor and Upper Lynn Valley resident. He talked about the revitalization campaign, which is being coordinated by NVD’s economic development officer Marten Kruysse.
The district has re-allocated money from its budget to create a $100,000 fund to put a real push on the Village for about six months. We’re being offered everything from free Canadian films to special theme days to merchant events. (Here on the website, we’re doing our bit, too, by making sure those events are listed on the LynnValleyLife events calendar!)
Robin says that things are definitely improving – they’ve now leased out most of the office spaces and storefronts (they’re still looking for a tenant for the 1,400 sq. ft space that was vacated by the Community Policing Office).
A number of companies will be moving in to the third floor of the library building, including a dental products firm and a commodities broker, and another big change has been the transfer of control of the glass-walled community room from the library to the recreation commission.
Not only will that mean the public can rent that room more easily (not being restricted to library opening hours), it means we can expect some recreation programming in there in the future, and I’m curious to see what that might entail.
Bob McCormack from the Lynn Valley Community Association wandered over to join our discussion (we’ll tell you more about Bob in another post, but just know that if something’s going on in Lynn Valley, Bob knows about it).
Sure enough, he had a great scoop for us … the L.V. Community Association will be creating a forest of Christmas trees in the Village, similar to the event held at Dundarave each year.
Organizations and individuals will be invited to adopt and decorate a tree in exchange for a donation to our fine community association. Details will follow.
Robin says the district, too, has put money aside for some Christmas fun and lights at the Village, so it sounds like we have a festive season to look forward to. But do YOUR part, too – don’t wait until Christmas to “Rediscover Village Life!”

Of leafy strolls and candy bowls…

I’ve always loved maples, and have long been somewhat envious of those New Englanders surrounded by their infamous fall colours. But it struck me today that autumn in Lynn Valley must surely be giving New Hampshire a run for its money.

I’ve always looked forward to watching the maples turn red beside Lynn Valley United, but this year it seems we are awash in colour; there are maples near Safeway and on Mountain Highway, and dotted throughout the whole neighbourhood.

We are lucky to have had mostly a dry, sunny fall, just the right recipe for good autumn colour. I’ve been getting out to have a good scuffle through the leaves while the weather holds (and I’ve been poaching leaves for my compost bin, too – not having many deciduous trees in my own yard, I pinched a big bag of leaves from a driveway on Frederick Road last week just before the garbage truck got there. Thanks for that!)

Walking in the woods at this time of year also gives one the opportunity to reflect upon that other seasonal issue – what kind of Halloween candy to stock for trick-or-treaters. Should you try to watch out for the kids’ insulin levels, and derail the sugar train by handing out Halloween pencils instead? Or do you try to win a popularity contest by giving out full-sized chocolate bars and tins of pop? Do you buy the goodies early to get the best deal, or will that ensure you’ll have devoured them all yourself by the 31st? Do you inflict something horrible on the kids (something toffee-oriented, perhaps) just to make sure that you won’t personally scarf all the leftovers?

So many difficult questions. I think I’ll go for a walk.

“Yes sir, yes sir, two bags full….”

But it wasn’t wool I was bringing home from the market, it was two bags of books from the library book sale, which runs until Sunday afternoon.

Oh, those orphaned tomes are hard to resist, aren’t they? Even though I knew my shelves were already bursting, I couldn’t help myself. I mean, really…. just look: A copy of the Giller Prize-winning The Sentimentalists, possibly even a first edition from Gaspereau Press (maybe worth twice its sticker price some day!) The Glorious Garlic Cookbook (did you know garlic is a member of the lily family?) Divine Inspiration (we could all use some of that!) Human Physiology, Eighth Edition (it’s a ten-year-old textbook, but our anatomy hasn’t changed much in the past decade, has it? I mean, collectively? Admittedly my personal anatomy isn’t quite what it was ten years ago.)

The list goes on. Sixteen bucks buys a lot of words. It’s hard to know which one of the books to tackle first, but I must say my attention was captured by this line I spotted in The Essential Earthman by Henry Mitchell: “Flowers are of course a sexual display unmatched in the living world and anybody who does not respond a little probably has no blood in him.”

Racy stuff, this. Perfect for a cosy night on the couch with the fire going. It looks like it will be a wet weekend, so why not equip yourself accordingly and support this Friends of the Library fundraiser at the same time?

Full house at Browns for opening night

I was fortunate enough to be one of those at the Browns’ “Thirsty Rehearsal” on Sunday night, happily acting as a guinea pig for the kitchen and serving staff.

You’d think that would have satisfied my pent-up curiosity enough that I could have stayed home tonight and thrown a log on the fire. But when push came to shove, I just couldn’t stay away.

It’s a bit of a thing of mine – inherited from my mother – to be first in the door on opening days. Not that I’m (too) pushy; I just like an occasion. First sailing on the Seabus? Check. First person to check out a book in the new LV Library? Moi. You get the idea.

So did I feel lucky when I managed to be first in line this afternoon, waiting on the patio for the door to open at 5. Just a few minutes after the hour, the door swung open and the other guests and I were welcomed in by the owner, Derek Archer.

By the time I left almost two hours later, the place was full, people were outside waiting to get in, and I’d put away a whisky sour and some pad thai – not a natural pairing, to be sure, but in the spirit of new beginnings I thought I’d try two things I’d never ever had before. Successes, both of them. I managed to say no to the chocolate cake, but likely won’t be so strong next time because I know it is very very good.

Both times I was at Browns, I’ve noticed how pleasant the staff are, and I probably slowed down the restaurant’s overall productivity by keeping my servers chatting so long at the table. But what else is a Social House for?

A little bit about LynnValleyLife…

There’s no shortage of things to be thankful for here in Lynn Valley. But I can tell from the water cooler buzz around here that the LynnValleyLife team is definitely glad this ‘interweb’ site is up and running, and I hope you are, too.

You may already have met the LynnValleyLife Facebook page, where team members post up some of the news of the valley. You’re welcome to post your own news there, too, if you have something worth telling your neighbours. Things like school events, or fundraisers, or concerts or bear spottings. (A day or two ago, for example, there was a posting about some VERY strange forest sounds that had us stumped…)

Good things come to those who wait, and for those of you who’ve seen our banners down in the town centre for the past few months and wondered what we’re all about, we’d like to thank you for waiting! There has been a good bit of bustle going on trying to bring you the best community site we can, and we didn’t want to take off the wrappings before we felt it was ready.

LynnValleyLife is still a site in progress, and you’re welcome to send us your suggestions as the web-crew and design folk continue their fine-tuning. Though it pains me to say it, you may even find a typo or a broken link or two, and we’d like to hear about those so we can make the corrections.

Some Valleyites are probably wondering why this site came to be, and what’s it for. It came to be because our publisher Jim Lanctot, who lives with his family near Lynn Valley Park, decided to hang out his real estate shingle. That said, he didn’t want all his marketing dollars going to fancy-pants advertisements or notepads with his face on it (not that there’s anything wrong with his face, but he thought maybe he could offer people something they’d find more useful).

So he decided to put some dollars and sense towards building a bang-up community website that not only shows off this area to potential new homeowners, but allows those of us already in the neighbourhood to talk to each other. Jim’s keen to help local merchants promote their businesses, and Lynn Valley organizations get the word out about their goings-on. There’s information about our history, and about current-day activities like hiking and mountain biking. Whether you are a senior or a schoolkid, we hope to give you the information and inspiration you need to live your very best LynnValleyLife.

Best part is, there are no strings attached. If we can help you promote your cause or toot your horn, we will. Make sure you ‘like’ our Facebook page and join the LynnValleyLife Network on this website so you can be sure to hear the news of the neighbourhood, including special offers and contests that might come your way. Jim doesn’t do anything icky with your contact details, and you can de-like us at any time. But we hope you won’t.

While Jim and the rest of his team run around and sell houses and figure out complicated web issues, I’m the person who sits back on the front porch and watches Lynn Valley life go by. I’ll be reporting back to you about the things I see, or hear, or wonder about. Make a deal with you: if you keep me in the know, I’ll return the favour. If you’d like to see an item posted, please send the details to me at lynn@lynnvalleylife.com.

Til then, thanks for being great neighbours. And welcome to LynnValleyLife.