Wednesday, September 29, 2010

High there!

One of the great things about having out-of-town company is that it can make you become a tourist in your own town.

The end-of-September weather couldn't have been better, so we made our way over to the North Shore for some of the sights, including the gondola ride up Grouse Mountain.

The view above (the far away part) is what the city of Vancouver looked like, part of it even blanketed in cloud cover. The ships anchored out in the harbour look like toys.

To ensure the full touristical experience, we stayed long enough to watch the lumberjack show. Corny jokes, but lots of fun -- and the guys' skills were certainly impressive.

We even stopped in at the Cleveland Dam, site of the watershed that provides the Lower Mainland with its delicious tap water.

I wonder, do I need to send myself a postcard?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gone to ground

Even though there are a few hours remaining in summer -- technically, it won't be autumn until 8:09 PDT this evening -- there's a definite bite of fall in the air.

In keeping with the season, it's been a day for doing things that tie in with the change.

For one thing, there's a new template for this blog. Not sure how long I'll keep it, but it seems to be appropriate for my autumny mood.

For another, it's the day the tent finally came down. No more sleeping out. Time to pack it away for next year's camping adventures (even if this year, those were all in the 'wilderness' of our foresty yard).

It's also the day the garlics go back into the ground, so they can hunker down over the winter, readying themselves to raise their heads into the sunlight of 2011. Nestled in beside the oregano and rosemary, another couple of tough-minded neighbours who should make it through the winter, they'll even have companionship over the long cold months ahead.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The persistence of art

It's been a week filled with art -- and of just about every variety.

Tuesday was the launch of a student magazine, The Louden Singletree, out at UFV in Abbotsford. The event included readings, an art display, and an array of great snacks (always a plus, I think). The photo above is one I shot while still on campus there. Lots of great art going on in every building, it seemed.

Thursday evening was another launch, this one to celebrate Semiahmoo Arts, the re-branded version of our local arts council. Music, lots of art on display (besides the photo show in the gallery, there were displays of pottery and fibre arts too).

Friday evening, it was cool jazz renderings from Heidi McCurdy, who was accompanied by guitarist Doug Towle. This was the first in the new Friday series, "Uptown Lounge" and it's complete with wine or beer, the perfect end-of-week chill-out.

But then Saturday found two more arts -- one maybe less traditional than others. It was the morning for the annual making of the bockwurst. Looks like we'll be set again with great sausage for the winter.

Still, I have to admit the most spectacular event of the week was the performance by Vancouver's newest dance troupe, the VCDT (Vancouver City Dance Theatre). They presented an original piece, The Dali Universe. With dancers portraying the subconscious and other aspects of the internal psyche, following the 'plot' was at times confusing. But then, the question at its heart posed this convoluting thought, "Is life a dream, or do dreams help us live?"

The multimedia effects all seemed to work the night we attended, so I didn't share the complaints expressed in the Vancouver Sun's review (save for his comments about the predictability of some of the choreography, which were pretty much spot on). I also loved the 'square' skirts the dancers wore for one part of the dance. And really, who couldn't adore the melting clocks that seemed to positively ooze their way down the set.

Anyway, quite a full week. Especially for a province where the government has slashed back its arts funding so severely, I'm glad that the arts have a way of persisting.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Just a little too tidy for me

Whoppers. That's what I've always called them. Fish stories is another term that some might use instead. Whatever name it might go by, this is one story I'm not buying into easily.

Like just about everyone else, when I heard that a pastor in Florida planned to burn a copy of the Koran, I was shocked and disgusted.

And I'll admit, early on I wondered how a guy who apparently can only attract a congregation of 50 (we had more than that at a literary reading in our local coffee house last January) could be getting such a high profile on the news.

This morning when I read that the White House might be getting involved, I saw a line credited to Sarah Palin's Facebook page, "...although people have the constitutional right to burn the Qur'an, doing so would be an 'insensitive and an unnecessary provocation — much like building a mosque at Ground Zero'." That made me shake my head. What a stupid thing, I thought, to toss into the mix of an already simmering situation. It looked like a case of fanning the proverbial flames, even though the book-burning fire hadn't actually been ignited.

Only, now the latest seems to be that the bonfire-loving Jones has changed his mind. But -- and here's where my spidey sense starts to quiver -- he's going to fly to New York and meet with an imam, as he's part of a plan that will ensure no mosque gets built near the dramatically-named Ground Zero.

Go ahead. Call me paranoid. It's a name I've learned to be comfortable with. But watch.

This story seems stinkier than last week's garbage left out in the sun. This kind of trade-off deal seems far too conveniently tidy. If it turns out to be true, I'm not promising to eat my hat, but I'll hate it like hell if such deals might truly be real. I'm not yet calling it a set-up, but it sure looks fishy to me.

And if you're into things like seeing Jesus's face on a piece of burnt toast, take a look at the photo that banners this post. If you scrinch your eyes just so, you might think you see the devil. But if you see him, I say scrinch a little harder. You might find you even see an angel in there.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I did it!

Not enough words to really stand as a novel, maybe not even enough to qualify as an official novella.

Still, after the 72 hours that were available to me, I'd managed to crank out over 15,000 words for this year's 3-Day Novel competition.

Amazingly, my batch of words even seems to exhibit a beginning, an end, and a bunch of somewhat-related bits that make up a middle.

How did I get through it?

Besides relying on coffee and Rice-Krispie treats, I was supported by my wonderful partner, who made sure that I had meals, complete with freshly-made (freshly-picked, no less) salads.

He even took me out to a nearby restaurant Saturday night. The break (especially the walk there and back) really did a lot to clear my head.

And yes, that mess at the top of this post is part of what evolved over the course of the three days. As I compiled the various notes, they served as the guideposts (though crampons rather than guideposts may be more descriptive of the traction they provided) that helped me make it to my goal.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

36 Frames

That's how many frames are on a standard roll of film. And that's how many pieces, taken with standard cameras, are in the current photo show at the Semiahmoo Arts Gallery.

The opening, last Thursday, kept viewers entranced -- not only with the prints hanging framed along the walls, but with the old cameras on display there.

Some of us even played around with View-Master reels, shot and created for the occasion by the artist.

There was lots about the night that was fun. Heck, even most of the food was in shades of black and white.