Monday, October 31, 2011

Silly and fun

... and easy. Those are usually the best Halloween costumes. The ones that come together, often at the last minute. Bits of this, a little of that, with something in-between.

This is the hat I wore for my costume as The Magnetic Poet (yep, it's a metal colander -- will go back into service for pasta soon, I am sure).

With a small metal clipboard on a string as a necklace (with words magnetized onto it too), all I had to do was put on some silly clothes. A red sweater, an orange skirt, red gloves, a red-and-orange get the picture.

Oh, and a bag of more magnetic words, which turned into a group-effort poem on my friend's fridge.

Happy Hallowheeeeen!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bounty of an autumn walk

It's amazing -- all the treasures that pop out during this, the harvest season of the year.

Like one final push before the frosts get hard, these little beauties appear in multitude.

Today's walk revealed (front and centre) chanterelles, (behind those, towards the left and upward) several varieties of boletes, (far left and far right) parasols in various stages of opening. The curly black ones just behind the chanterelles are the wonderfully textured helvellas. The rusty-orange pile on the right is simply my scarf, which got pressed into service as a 'container' when I ran out of bags to fill.

Most of these mushrooms will get eaten fresh over the next few days. The rest will get dried (five racks of the dryer are already filled with parasols). They'll nourish our palates (and memories of forest walks) all winter long.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tales of the 351

I can understand if you’re having trouble figuring out what the image is. I’m still scratching my head as to why these things have to happen.

It’s a pic I snapped the other night on the #351 bus home from town.

The Canada Line is all swish and swell, and the driverless trains just keep a-comin’ till somebody shuts 'em down sometime well after midnight. But because connector buses to the southern 'burbs have a drastically cut schedule (down to only one per hour) after 11pm, the line-ups for the buses just grow and grow as the trains blindly bring riders to the changeover station.

Plenty of concerts and other events in Vancouver start around 8 (movies often at 9 or 9:30), so it’s only logical to see that many riders will be starting to head home sometime after 11. But some brainy administrator (who’s obviously never stood outside in the cold waiting for a bus) seems to have determined that everybody who lives past Richmond must go to bed by eleven.

Sure, there’s a bit of an overhang for shelter while you wait, but that’s it. And nary a toilet in any Translink station, so hang on!

Because the bus I was on (11:50 pm) was only faintly illuminated, it was hard to tell just how many passengers were standing. My best count (I did it twice) was over 30. With the number of seats on the bus (47) and the number standing – even if my head count was off, we were well over the stated capacity (60).

I’m grateful the driver was willing to take all of us, and that he didn’t want to leave anyone behind in the cold. As he pointed out as he asked everyone to keep moving back, “We don’t want to leave them out there for another hour.”

He drove smoothly and carefully, and a number of us thanked him for squeezing us all in. I guess we were just lucky that pretty well everyone on the ride that night was nice and slim!

Translink doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem with their scheduling. As of last contact, they have ‘no plans’ to add more late-night buses. Guess we better get used to this – and hope that all the drivers on the line are willing to bend the rules for the sake of riders on the 351 route.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Theatre in the 'burbs

Despite the cleaner air and somewhat lower costs of living, life in the suburbs lacks a number of elements.

Number one on the list would have to be the choice (or lack thereof) in opportunities for professional theatrical productions.

Happily, the Surrey Arts Centre runs a satellite series of productions based out of Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre. Last night's show was the season's kick-off and wow, did it rock!

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story starred Zachary Stevenson (whose pretty much note-perfect voice was certainly convincing as Holly), but it was the work of the whole ensemble that made the performance the event that it was.

One of the elements that emerges from the show is the depth of Holly's genius. You can't help but hear how much his music influenced the Beatles, a band who patterned their name after Holly's group, the Crickets. (And where do you suppose the Hollies got their name?)

I have to say that the sound in the newly renovated theatre last night sure beat the tinny speakers on the old 'hi-fi' record player I used to listen to, playing those 45s over and over while my mother quietly went crazy.

It's just too bad I couldn't take a photo of the performance, though I can't imagine my camera would have caught the high-end energy of all that talent. Still, for a preview, here's a link to the trailer.

The Surrey show runs until October 28th. A link to tickets is here, as are listings for other performances in other 'burbs and outposts in B.C.

Sometimes life in the sticks ain't so bad after all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Vancouver

The movement I first witnessed last week in Taos has come to Vancouver, the city where it all started, with Adbusters Magazine. Crowd estimates vary, but when I was there in the afternoon, the people gathered outside the art gallery were definitely in the thousands.

It probably helped that the sun was shining. The day felt glorious -- like the start of a very good thing.

Speakers were amazingly eloquent, the crowd delightfully polite. One of the issues addressed was free (or much less expensive) post-secondary education, so graduates don't need to go out into the world with a debt load bigger than mortgages than used to be. The fact that government rarely seems to listen to listen to the people or even heed data was another (as in the current build-more-prisons-faster mania of the Harperites, or their tear-down the Ministry of Environment as fast as the ozone hole grows philosophy). Joblessness, homelessness -- the issues exist and can't keep being swept under the rug.

This movement may indeed be the change we've all been waiting for. Fingers crossed as we go forward, towards better lives for all.

And from the number of tents set up on the north side of the gallery, it appears that quite a number of people plan to be here for the long haul. As the old saying used to put it, 'Power to the People'. Maybe it's time.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Small beginnings

The lazy-looking little stream above is part of the famous Rio Grande. Hardly looks very 'grande' but I guess everything that's eventually big starts out small.

This tiny demonstration in Taos, New Mexico (yep, there were only three people when we drove past) is the first I've seen in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I suspect that, like the Rio Grande, small beginnings will be leading to greater things.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

On being led...

I like it when I seem to fall into good things, especially when each of those good things leads its way into another. That’s kind of how this trip to Santa Fe came about. The Dear Man was off to a photographic conference, and I managed to come along for the ride.

When we got here, one of the first brochures he spotted was advertising a writers’ festival. Since he knows I’m not a big-time shopper, he knew this would be exactly what I'd want to do.

Because Friday’s first reading didn’t start until 4:30, I had plenty of time to stroll around Santa Fe’s beautiful downtown. The place is almost an embarrassment of arts and culture – there’s far too much to take in on one short trip. Still, I did my best.

Although it’s probably best known as Georgia O’Keeffe territory, the galleries, museums and shops here are filled with all sorts of treasures. The handmade quilt in the photo above was only one of the many spectacular items I saw.

Walking through an underground mall of gallery shops, I spotted a number of fine Japanese prints. Falling into conversation with the shop owner, I learned that he was hoping to travel to Japan – and that when there, he hoped to make a documentary, revisiting sites referred to by the famous haikuist, Basho.

From there, it was on to the New Mexico History Museum, site of the writers’ fest. Owing to cold and rainy weather, the readings had been moved indoors, to a room holding an exhibit called From a Distant Road. It’s a remarkable exhibit of modern haiga by Santa Fe poet, John Brandi. The exhibit is rounded out by photographs from New Mexico’s Photo Archives, and these in turn are matched with excerpts from the work of – who else – Basho.

It was beginning to feel like an abundance of those serendipitous signs I love receiving; they always make me feel as though I’m in the right place at the right time. This feeling was only confirmed by the readers who followed.
Besides reading from her beautiful book, My Thin-Skinned Wandering, (even the title seems Basho-like), Piper Leigh showed us a kimono she had made. The kimono itself is a poem; the text is embedded within the sheer cloth – a gorgeously innovative way to present the work. More of what she'd probably call a "high-touch artifact" (a term she used in describing her book).

Then, when the next reader, RenĂ©e Gregorio (one member of the group Tres Chicas) stepped up, she took me only further into my day of happenstance. In fact, the coincidences were getting so thick, the day was beginning to feel like one of those Russian nesting dolls. She thanked the audience, then indicated her comfort in the venue, pointing out that the poet/artist whose work adorned the walls is her husband.

Today’s skies are blue, and the crows are calling for me to come out and play. Really, how can I possibly say no to them?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

An e-Sign of the Times

Yesterday was a travel day. It was only two flights, but there were far too many airport shuttles, and way too much sitting around.

In the waiting area at LAX, I couldn’t help noticing how just about everyone was hooked up to some sort of electronic device. Most of them were talking on cell phones, texting, or playing games to pass the time. Several were reading – but from Kindles or other e-readers.

Aside from a couple who were reading from old-fashioned print newspapers, I only spotted one other person reading from a traditional print-format publication. Ironically, he was reading Wired, the magazine that's all about e-communication.

And then, later the news, with the day's final irony: Steve Jobs, the man who had initiated so much of this, had died.

Even if his devices mostly seem to start with an ‘i’, he certainly did a lot to extend the bounds of our physical world to the one we inhabit now, a decidedly e-world.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Peace in the forest

This was a weekend for a different kind of retreat – a getaway for doing nothing in particular.
Just the two of us, off and away. No alarm clock, no agenda, no computer.

Even the weather co-operated (mostly), allowing us to take lazy strolls through the bush. Aside from encountering several piles of bear scat, we appeared to be the only mammals around. We were on our own, alone in the midst of all that woodsy beauty. Even the air seemed to carry a tang of green.

The trees were filled with birdsong. The streams were full of salmon, splashing their way towards home.

And hidden under the softest green moss were the golden treasures of the season, the chanterelles. A bounty to bring home, to enjoy and to share.