Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Freaky Day

Last Thursday, the 25th, must have had some kind of planetary strangeness going on. It seemed like a day where, if something could go wrong, it did.

Jevon did some damage to his car that was totally flukey; the proofs for my chapbook manuscript ballooned from its modest 28 pages to a sudden 35. I nearly lost the author who was coming to town to present a reading. And she'd come all the way from Denmark. Yikes. And oh yeah, besides Farrah Fawcett dying, there was that whole strange thing with Michael Jackson, wasn't there.

I would have probably forgotten what a screwy day it had been if it hadn't been for the fact that even here in Ontario where we're visiting, I keep hearing about more about things that happened that same day.

Our auntie got stuck in traffic as the freeway was all backed up -- all because (on a dry day, not in rush hour) a car was overturned, resting on its roof in the middle of the road. I haven't been able to track that one down. I think it's probably best left alone.

When we went to visit my brother-in-law, Leo, he pointed out the house across the street. There was a huge tree leaning onto the roof and it was set for demolition (too damaged to fix). He tried pointing out the barn as well, only it wasn't there anymore. You see, there'd been a tornado. Luckily for Leo, it had only touched down across the road, then sucked itself back up into its cloud and moved on.

And like I say, I would have let this go, but when I bought today's paper, the front page had a terrible story about newlyweds killed after they'd just returned from their honeymoon. This occurred on Friday, not Thursday. Still, it could well have been within that very odd 24-hour span.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Halfway to Christmas

Okay, call me weird. I'm probably the only person in the blogosphere not writing a tribute to Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, or even a belated one to Ed McMahon.

I'm observing June 25th, the day that's midway on the calendar to Christmas.

Partly that's because my mother's birthday was Christmas, so today would have been her half-birthday -- and I'm the kind of person who makes note of such oddball things.

But it's also because I've started preparing some of the goodies I'll be giving away in December. The picture shows a little batch of jam I made with those berries I picked.

The block stamps are ones I found in a sale basket the other day. I expect I'll be using them when I make this year's batch of cards.

And yes, I admit it, I feel sad over the deaths of each of those three artists -- as different from each other than almost any three performers I can think of. May they rest.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Market Day in White Rock

I suppose for many, Sunday is still a day for church-going. I'm not among that group, but hey -- whatever you believe is fine with me.

I still needed a few bits of local greens to round out yesterday's Sunday supper, so the Farmer's Market seemed like the best place to go. As usual, I ended up buying more than just those few vegies. I bought jars of honey, salsa, some baked treats, even granola.

But the real treat of the morning was running into friends, standing around and having a little catch-up chat. That kind of unplanned encounter always gives me such a strong sense of what community is all about. And maybe that's as close as I will ever again get to anything like church.

The day was cold and gusty, a big change from what we've been having, but the singers persevered. From left to right, they're locals Heidi McCurdy and Laurel Murphy. The singer on the right is Katia Leonardo, over here from Portugal. The little vid gives you a tiny sampling of what you'll hear this Wednesday if you can make it into Vancouver for a show at the Jazz Cellar.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First of the season

Even though it's felt like summer for a while now, Solstice doesn't officially arrive until 10:45 pm tonight (PDT).

So, even though I can't really call this the first of this summer's berry-picking sessions, I'm still considering these strawberries the first of the season.

The morning was just overcast enough that we didn't need to work up a giant sweat while we picked, teasing the reddest berries out from under the leaves.

The trick now will be to get jams made, berries frozen and best of all -- to eat as many fresh ones as possible!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Nose Knows

A walk to the beach led me to an ugly discovery. The sculptured bear on East Beach, even though he’s never been my favourite piece of public art, had been the victim of a senseless attack.

He’d lost a good chunk of his nose.

It must have taken a huge amount of effort – or at least some solid tools – to gouge out such a chunk of this massive piece of stone.

It’s too bad whoever did this couldn’t find a more productive outlet for that kind of energetic strength.

A friend reminded me that rubbing the nose of a statue is a superstition associated with bringing good luck. Mean of me, maybe, but I’m hoping that the missing chunk of nose will follow the person who did this, and trail him (her?) with all sorts of bad luck. The nose knows…

Monday, June 15, 2009

Big Break Sunday

After spending the last two days indoors at a conference, it felt good to walk around in a beautiful setting, Hazelmere Golf course, site of this year’s Surrey Invitational.

We caught up with Derek Gillespie (of this season’s Big Break XI, aka Big Break PEI)on the third hole, and for a while we seemed to be the only ones following him.

Here he is, nearly at the 18th green, looking all intent on just where the ball might be landing.

It’s too bad the greens were so hard. They really seemed to play havoc with the day’s putts.

We probably should have invited Derek over for supper last night. We could have helped him warm up on the ‘putting green’ on our deck.

Even if the video is mostly a sideways view, this is a pretty fun way to spend part of a summer evening.

Friday, June 12, 2009

There's a Heart in Art

One of my best pals used to wear a button that read “Ya gotta have art” – so true.
But to have art – at least in this country – ya gotta have support for it, especially when it’s in its fledgling stages.

Where do writers and photographers and designers get much of their early exposure and on-the-job learning? Little magazines.

In an article that appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, John Barton, editor of The Malahat Review was quoted:

“The small magazines are integral to Canadian arts and culture and help cultivate homegrown talent,” said Barton. Yann Martel, author of Man Booker winner Life of Pi, published his first story in The Malahat Review in 1988.

Ask Margaret Atwood where she first published her work. Waves? Branching Out? Blackfish?

Yet despite the history of our literary magazines, Steve Harper and crew have a plan that will gut them, probably shutting many down. The article (see previous link) sees John Barton reminding us “That funding has allowed the magazine to increase contributor fees, redesign the magazine and increase staff salary -- all of which produces a better product…”

And really, don’t such factors (increased contributors’ fees, staff salaries, etc.) all do their part toward sustaining a healthy economy? The contributor is now able to buy a loaf of bread – and hopefully something to have with the bread.

Those artists and authors who’ve had their work in that small magazine can, with these publishing credits, knock on doors to bigger opportunities – and, for example, have their book published or get a show in a gallery.

For a start, why not subscribe to a magazine or two.

There’s a Facebook group you might want to join, even if its name is long: Coalition to Keep Federal Support of Literary, Scholarly and Arts Magazines.

If you’re a letter writer, Heritage Minister James Moore needs to hear that this ‘adjustment’ would not be a good idea for Canadian art – and in turn, for our heritage. After all, what are cultures remembered for? Their art.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

"It's all good" has had it

I don't want to hear this inane remark any more.

The truth of the matter is: It isn't all good.

Especially not all the crap we've been stashing for a rainy day. Probably not even half of that is any good.

And the world? Nope, it isn't all good either.

Sure, some things are pretty good, or quite good, or even mostly good, but no. It's not all good. So please don't say that any more -- especially not to me.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

And Someone saith...

Christopher Hitchens, probably best known for his atheistic beliefs, has proposed some new commandments, add-ons to the traditional Ten.

The first of three scheduled guests in the ROM’s series, Three New Commandments, Hitchens led off the series with his proposed new shalt-nots.

One of these condemns genocide (though another commenter pointed out the redundancy of that one – as ‘Thou shalt not kill’ should already apply, whether to one or many). Hitchens also proposed commandments against slavery and child abuse. Hard to rail against someone opposing any of those.

Still, he’s inspired me to come up with three of my own, and I’m hoping that others will suggest even more, especially ones that might be particularly applicable to the 21st century. And so, a ‘shalt not’ and two more-positive imperatives.

Thou shalt not produce spam nor participate in forwarding chain-letter type messages (You know the ones: 'Forward to 10 people within the next 10 minutes…').

Share whatever bounty comes your way by donating money or time. If the only sharing possible is singing praise to the evening sky, so be it; share what is yours.

Honour thy children (and grandchildren), for they are the future.
Two more speakers are scheduled in the series and will be adding their own suggestions for commandments. It will be interesting to see what A. J. Jacobs or Camille Paglia offer as new words to be carved in stone.

Jacobs describes himself as "...officially Jewish but...in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." He's the one who wrote about an experiment he lived: The Year of Living Biblically -- and oh, what a beard he grew!

Paglia has been the bane of talk-show hosts for years, but is also a lover of poetry. I'm hoping one of hers might urge us to honour poetry more than we do.