Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three score and ten

Seventy. If he hadn't died at 27, that's how old Jimi Hendrix would have been today.

The photos were taken at the shrine that is his gravesite, in Renton, Washington. Friends and I were taken there on a magical history tour last March, and when we left, all of us were buzzing, twanging our air guitars and singing Voodoo Chile (which my friend Paul likes to pronounce 'Voodoo Chili').

Paul then drove us further down the road, letting us know only that we were off to visit the graves of other luminaries. These sites turned out to be graves of the poet Denise Levertov and the memorable father-and-son, Bruce and Brandon Lee.

Then, while we were cruising the lanes of Lake View Cemetery on Seattle's Capitol Hill, what came on the radio, but Hendrix.

Here's a bit of a clip of what we heard that morning. Maybe not 'reverent' enough as cemetery music, but totally and completely appropriate.

Happy birthday, Jimi.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I love my shirt

I love this shirt. Out of a closet overly full of this-and-that, it’s what I’d wear every day if I could. Once upon a time, there was even a song celebrating just such a beloved piece of clothing.

But aside from long-ago pop songs, why is it that I love it so much?

It’s soft. It feels good against my skin. It makes no demands in terms of fashion sense. It lets me feel like my normalest self, no pretension about being something or someone I’m not.

When it came into my life, it was nicely pre-worn. Broken in and not all like a brand-new thing, too stiff to hold me close the way I want a shirt to do. And the price was just right: free.

It came from one of my very favourite shops, the free store on Denman Island (second only to in my list of faves to the free store on Denman’s next door neighbour, Hornby Island). And how long ago was that? Nearly a decade ago, I am sure.

Despite the fact that the collar is severely frayed – in danger of removing itself from the body of the shirt altogether – or that the elbows are starting to go through, this remains my best and happiest-making piece of clothing.

Time to go shopping for a new shirt? Not on your life. Especially not with tomorrow being Buy Nothing Day.

For now, I plan to keep wearing my best shirt – as long and as carefully as I can.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A day on the bay

Late afternoon, early evening -- already nearly dark, after a perfect pre-winter day in Vancouver.

When I woke up this morning, it was six-barely-something and still full-on dark. But since I felt rested I put on the coffee and a lamp and started reading.

It wasn't too long before this happened.
How beautiful the dawn is
its slow stretch awaking
grey-eyed and soft, as if trying to remember
all the colours in the world
then placing them, one by each
their own leaf,

And maybe that's just what happens when you read Susan Musgrave too early in the day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A cultural landmark

Earlier this month, I attended a Twisted Poets salon at Vancouver's Cafe Montmartre. Although it was a terrific event, featuring Diana Hayes and Taryn Hubbard, the evening was marred by the announcement that the venue would be closing by mid-month.

For years, this has been THE place for the arts -- book launches, open mic events, jazz performances, even painters in action. Readers and musicians from across the continent have performed here.

Only now, as with so many good things, it's coming to an end.

Tomorrow's Bohemian Caress looks to be the farewell event. All we can hope is that the owner Ali (who has done sooooo much for local artists, especially practitioners of the often-forgotten literary arts) will be able to recoup one of these days and open a new place that's as welcoming as the Cafe Montmartre has been.

Raise a glass and read a poem.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


That's the direction we need to be moving in. But for a minute, I need to go back, to a memory that feels relevant.

Four years ago yesterday, I flew into Chicago --  for a final visit with my mother, who was dying.

She'd been mostly bedridden for a number of years and for the course of a couple of elections hadn't been given the opportunity to vote.

But 2008 was different. When my sweet sister the Libran discovered our mother's non-voting predicament, she pushed her sleeves up, got the paperwork going, then got on a plane and delivered the ballot in person.

Our mother not only got to vote, she lived long enough to see her candidate elected. And oh my, did her eyes shine as her man was met by the cheering throngs in Grant Park.

And oh dear, did my sister's and my eyes shine as well as our 83-year-old mother lifted her arm in a victory fist-punch.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Beauty and Bounty

I had a hard time deciding what to call this post. Although it's mostly about the bounty we always seem to discover in the forest, I can't ever manage to ignore its beauty.

We lucked into a gorgeous afternoon -- the first without rain in several days and drove out to one of our favourite forest spots. I'd packed a lunch, so it felt very festive, a celebration of the beauty in this lingering autumn we've had.

September and October (at least the first half) were too dry for mushrooms. Then, the second half of the month had seemed too harshly wet to go out. So today, the 'Goldilocks' day seemed just right.

We didn't find a big batch, but succeeded in finding enough chanterelles to have a beautiful meal and still have a few for drying, so no complaints on that front.

The best treat of the day was seeing the salmon still heading upstream to spawn. The video is short, but indicates how feisty these fish are, despite all the miles they've already had to travel.