" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

December 31, 2007

Year End

Goodbye 2007
abbreviated version

BC Mental Health & Addiction Services Riverview Sydney Smoke-Free initiative Maria Ric Fred Children's Mental Health programs Open House North Lawn Closure Briefing Notes Ministry of Health Bowen Island Linda Lockdown FPH Flooding Lakeview Tin Babe with a Backpack Lynn Canyon Fuse Vancouver Art Gallery Fred Herzog Anthony Bourdain Hons Yuk Yuks YWCA Mentoring Santa Fe David Sweet Abiqui Heidi Jim Sara Sparkey El Paradero Gloria from Houston Ghost Ranch calligraphy O'Keeffe Chama River Yurts Witchita Falls, Texas Nancy from N. Carolina Steve Danceworks CRU Social Marketing Review Board Hearings Photography Meetup Lorna Vanderhague Dave B. Jolly Indian Queens Crossing Prospect Point Richard from Quebec Clove Mrs. Carruthers Lisa Tapastree Rocky Pt. Park Reiffel Bird Sanctuary Psychometry The Tomahawk Saltspring The Driftwood Ruckle Point camping Afrorobics Shannon Falls Coast's Courage to Come Back Awards Stanley Park Neil Beth Richard Carderos Sharkeys Ladner Depression in the Workplace ConferenceThe Pinnacle PHSA Vancouver Heritage House Tours Kayaking Deep Cove Colleen Maple Ridge Blues and Jazz Gwen more free time Sala Thai Bistro Bistro Michele Paul Michelle Reading Monastery without Walls The Black Swan NikonD40 The Yale The Fish House CMHA Fundraising Breakfast Bianca birth Justice baby shower June Sheila Dad The Sylvia Stanley Park Seawall Robson Street Strathcona Coal Harbour Steamworks Brew pub Powell Street Festival Ian Ponchos Mexican Restaurant Chill Winston Fireworks Phyllis Jim Alison Scott Cypress Narida The Lift Peggy Saltaire Ambleside Anne Bob Sechelt Friendship Wakefield Lighthouse Park Squamish Kelowna Aunt Jean Lakeshore Drive Okanagan Lavendar Farm Cedar Creek Winery Summer Hill Winery See Seven Gwen Cara Greenwood Nelson The Hume Hotel Kaslo New Denver Slocan Osoyoos Hedley Phil Synchronicity Gold Rush Inn Mascot Mine Tour The Hitching Post Lightning Lakes Laptop Vancouver General health Fringe Festival Theatre Terrific Aquarium Steveston Holly Bridges Chen Artegiano's Kerrisdale High Tech Communicators' Exchange Vancouver International Film Festival Morse Code Taste of Health Karen & Victor's Thanksgiving Crabtree Corner Dog Mountain Grouse Architectural Institute of BC walks Glenn Gould Blogging CBC Radio Studio One Eleanor Wachtel Bill Duthie Memorial Lecture writing poetry Megan Kim Stanley Theatre Earthsave Blogging Parade of the Lost Souls Leila Luis Libre Room ambulance paramedics Surrey Memorial Hospital kidney dialysis Mom Dr. Karim death Jim Dad The Emerald Suki Madhu New West Quay Joy Shannon Carl The Giants Burgoo The Pen Cafe and Bistro George Strombolopoulis taping Hotel Vancouver Lounge Dee Lolitas Brazilian Steakhouse Michael Lucias Keiko Blenz volunteering CMHA giftwrapping booth Grace Scuzzie's watercolour Bojangles UBC Golf Course Pub Van Dusen Festival of Lights Checo VOC Soul Gospel Choir Peggy Chris Courtenay Catherine Cody snow Stanley Park train Christmas shortbread Banana Leaf Megan Umoja Gordon Karen Kelly S. Doug Yaletown Brewing Company Seymour Snowshoeing Lisa Dave Karen Heather Vince Seymours Pub
One foot in front of the other moving forward.
Enter. 2008.

December 24, 2007

Measuring Longevity through Christmas

Can you call forth Christmas seasons now past
like photos in an album?

Listen harder
for the creaks of
all the rooms
you've been in
on every December 25th
as the last image
of that morning's dream
slipped behind dawn's light

were you alone
or wrapped
around the heartbeat of another
clinging safely to
the quietest morning of the year
on the jagged breath
of a lover?

is there a face
long since gone

a reminder
some sentences
once spoken
stay strong

the final note
of a gospel choir
in full harmony

Further back still
you see them arrive
single file

mother and sisters
giggling and glaring
as the 16mm camera
captures the pilgrimage

Tray after dish
gravy boat after platter

white linen
costumed with
silver spoons and crystal goblets.

Wrap yourself in the smell
of all the arms and legs
of those favorite baby dolls

grip tightly
at what happiness was then

even as the whiff
of vacant stares

rocking, rocking, rocking

greet the nursing home staff
mouthing the words
to Silent Night.

December 20, 2007

Before E-mail

I liked it better
when we were young
and your words
waited like a secret inside the mailbox
loose, crayola-coloured handwriting
saying hello
as warm as your smile and a hug
scrawled on white envelopes
or postcards
some even made of wood

December 19, 2007

How Not To Recycle a Computer

So, I've been trying to get rid of my old desktop computer because it's taking up space in my apartment and my kitchen table has become a desk for my laptop and my apartment looks a little like the living space of a computer science geek. Well, no, then I'd have two monitors, not just one.

Yesterday I had a job interview. Today I have another interview and I think to myself, I can't even figure out how to recycle my 1999 Pentium III computer. It has been almost 5 months since I got my laptop and I just can not get the old desktop out of my house. Who knew this would be a monumental task. If I can't get an old computer out of my house I yell at myself how effective am I really? Would I hire someone who can't get a computer out of their house?

But, wait. It's really not as simple as it sounds. It must be done properly. It's not just like taking out the recycling and separating it properly which, by the looks of the back lane is too intellectually demanding a task for the majority of the Canadian population.

First it requires that I erase the hard drive. Because, hey, I have such confidential records on there. Financial documentation that reveals the sheer lack of depth in my bank accounts. The miniscule income tax returns I've received. Etc.

So, I'm on the Internet trying to find out about all sorts of things I should have already known. I'm learning that Shareware does not mean Freeware. Freeware means Freeware which is why the word free is not in the word share. So after going through all the first stages of downloading a shareware program that I think will do the trick, I must cough up money to complete the deed. But No. No. No. No. I'm not paying MORE money to get rid of my almost 10 year old computer. I might as well just go outside and throw $40 up in the air. So, once again, I'm stalled and every day, I look at that old computer. Sometimes I turn it on thinking I'll try again to find the right program to erase the hard drive. But, I can't seem to bring myself to do it. Not again. I'm too tired right now. It's Christmas. I'm tired. It's raining. I'm tired.

Then, I must know for sure what "recycling" means to the place where I might take it to be recycled. I hear that the Salvation Army recycles. I call them. What do you do with the parts? I ask. I don't know she says. Well who would know? I don't know, she says. Well, is there someone there I could talk to who would know? "No" she says. "Check our website," she says. I do. There's nothing.

I look over at that computer, that white monolithic monitor on my desk and feel helpless. Feel pathetic. I'm being reduced to making whining noises all because of a piece of plastic. I'm leaning over the keyboard, whimpering. Holding my head. Help me.

But, lest you think it's so simple, just try it. Try recycling your obsolete computer. Because nothing is what it seems.

I think I know why THEY say, just take a hammer to the hard drive. Then THEY say things like you could use a magnet to erase the hard drive. A big magnet? How big I think. Can I take one of those little lady bug magnet's off my fridge? Will that erase the hard drive? Who are THEY anyway?

Even if I could find the right sized magnet where would I direct this magnet? Should I be standing back, holding it the way Luke Skywalker holds a lightsabre? When I have this magnet in my hand should I be wearing one of those lead lined covers; the kind they make you wear when you go to the dentist and they take an X-ray? Which part of the machinery would I be holding the magnet in front of? GRRRRR? Do you see what I mean? Can you feel my pain?

I've almost reached a point of no return where I've just decided, I'll just keep it for historical reference. I'll have it, still, on the same desk taking up space when I'm 90 and by that time, I'll have a whole bunch of obsolete computers that I still haven't figured out how to get rid of because the computer chip will surely be implanted, by then, in my hearing aid. Or my pace maker. My cane. My night vision goggles. My artificial frontal lobe.

By then, I will BE a computer myself.

Then, when I die, they'll have to figure out how in the world can we do a "green burial" on this one when she's chalk full of electronics? Most of which, I might add, will be severely outdated.

And with any luck, they'll have just as much trouble trying to recycle me as I'm having trying to recycle my Pentium III which is even too old to give to some charity because Computers in Schools want at least a Pentium III but one that has at least 833mhz of memory or something like that.

Help me. Help me God. Give me a sign. Can't you just beam it up?

December 16, 2007

Closest Thing I've Got to a Christmas Story

Some time in the late 90s I went through an Internet dating phase except the original point of contact wasn't via the Internet as much as it was over the phone.

I went through so many meetings that after their names were long gone from memory, I'd latch on to some attribute about them to label them. I'd catch myself describing them like: The native carver who almost drove me insane. The chanting Buddhist who took me to that temple where we chanted for an entire hour in unison with hundreds of others. The Japanese gardener who kissed me in the elevator at Chapters. The freelance phone psychic. The golfer. The 'Born Again' palliative care-giving, philandering Philippino. The Italian father of five grow-op king. The lover of masochistic films who declared I was exactly the type of person he was looking for 5 minutes after meeting me. No whips required. The polish poet I met at Kinkos. That American whom I was crazy enough to go on a train trip with that required us to be really close together for almost 18 hours when we'd never previously met. Before the train had made it out of West Van, I was looking to get off. The train that is.

I've blocked the majority of meetings from memory the way a survivor of post traumatic stress syndrome surely blocks the original trauma.

The meeting that left the most bittersweet memory however was the one with the biker. I mean the former biker. I had to meet him. I had spoken to him more than once and I jokingly asked him if he had tattoos. When he told me he had 10 I tried to imagine where 10 tattoos would fit on one body then quickly put those thoughts out of my mind.

I pictured this beer-gutted, black-vested, bushy bearded polar bear of a guy scuffing his way towards the nearest coffee shop.

"Make that a double Latte!" Is that what he'd say in a gruff sort of way? Maybe he'd add "on the rocks" just to be safe.

Would his butt crack hang out of his faded blue jeans? Would women's names and arrows shoot from the skin on his forearms and other places I'd rather not imagine. I really didn't know. I was however intrigued at the thought of finding out. His face staring at mine over a coffee was something I felt the need to experience. I wanted to see at least one of those tattoos.

I arrived at the coffee shop. I did the cursory glancing around and spotted him right away. He was on a bar stool staring out the window.He was sipping an orange juice with extra pulp. Don't ask! He as wearing a cracked, brown leather bomber jacket, blue jeans, black and white runners, wide-framed Tortoise shell glasses. His sandy brown hair, tied back in a pony tail, hung a little string-like down his back. He was chewing gum. He looked like a movie star on one of the film sets where I would discover he actually worked as a grip. Danish he was and those Danish genes were present.

"Mark?" I asked.
He stared at me in response.
"You don't look so intimidating," I said a little too loudly, a combination of nerves and relief at his appearance amplifying my voice.
An ever so slight smile crossed his face then changed its mind. I couldn't tell whether he wanted to kiss me or smack me.

We talked. No. Actually. He talked. He told me all about his son, his therapy, and making a lot of changes in the past few years. He kept alluding to us - him and I - being the kind of people who would never have known each other then.
"You're not the kind of woman I'm used to," he said.

Visions of myself as a librarian or kindergarten teacher danced across my mind.

I tried to envision myself clinging to a fat beast of a bike burning rubber down the highway outside of 100 Mile House or Clinton. I really liked the idea. It's never going to happen.

I believed him. I wouldn't ever be the kind of woman he had been used to. I did, however, sometimes have fantasies wishing I could be more like those women.

It was a few days before Christmas. At the time, I was getting ready to go to Mexico so had no intention of staying long. But, we were getting along so famously which in hindsight should be read as: I was doing a good job lisening ad nauseum that he invited me to have lunch and I accepted.

We wandered down the street to a tiny diner where the tables were mere centimetres apart.

He opened the door and just barely across the threshold his big voice boomed, "Excuse me" with such command that I actually jumped a little. So did the rather short guy standing with his back to us in the entrance. I had visions of my biker picking him up by the scruff of his jacket and depositing him behind us. Instead, in complete contrast, my biker simply asked, "Have you been waiting long?"

Now you would have thought based on the way he made the enquiry that he was the minister's wife greeting a young couple on the afternoon of their wedding rehearsal. That's how soft his voice was. I was really beginning to enjoy this. A biker. Sure. Why not? Why not a biker, I said to myself. We squeezed our way into our tiny table.

He pushed his sleeves up a little. I finally caught a peek at one of his tattoos. I tried not to stare. He pushed his sleeves up a little more. A guy on a Harley had left no skid marks on his right forearm. An American flag and a bald eagle perched comfortably on the underside of that same arm. The colour of the flag had faded so that where there had once been stars and stripes, there was now only skin.

"Is that you?" I asked, pointing to his right arm and the guy on the Harley.
I could feel the couple at the next table move in unison, a little to their right, a little closer to us. We all wanted a good look. Step right up.

"Where didcha get those done?" I asked.
"You know," he said.
I was silent. Why in the world would he think I would know I wondered.
"I don't know," I said, like the naive little librarian I was beginning to resemble even more.
"Mac's leathers?" I guessed taking a stab at it.
"No" he said beginning to realize just how far removed we were from each other's realities.
"You know" he said even more quietly as my mind swirled no closer than before to the correct answer.
I really didn't know. In fact, I didn't have a clue.
He paused a bit longer as if trying to decide how to tell me the obvious before he just blurted it out.
"The Joint. In The Joint!" he said as if I was the stupidest person on the planet.
Like two sharp slaps across my face that word - "the Joint" - hit me.
Do people actually use that word in real life? The Joint? I felt like I'd been transported into that old Paul Newman Movie: Cool Hand Luke!

"You get a number 6 guitar string and you heat it up..."

"What are you going to have?" I interrupted him knowing there was no possibility of my appetite remaining if I let him go there.
"I think I'm going to have an omelette," I said. With mushrooms.
The waitress had just arrived.
"I'll have the special," he said. "And, make sure there's no cheese in it!"
No cheese? she asked as if to suggest that there really wasn't much point in making an omelette without cheese.
"That's right. No cheese." he repeated.
I ordered as well. Everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly. I let slow silent breath seep out.
He talked about his work. Some little rich kid protege actor was terrorizing the set. One day he'd had just about enough of him, cornered him in the back all alone, held him by the arm and said, "Look everybody else might be letting you get away with your game but I'm onto you. I'm onto you and I want you to sit down and shut up and stay out of my way."
"Does that look like cheese to you? he asked moments after the waitress had deposited our orders.
I was enjoying a mouthful of fluffiness not overly concerned with his question now that my food had arrived.
"It's cheese!" he said, really quickly, exasperated as if he'd been betrayed during a drug deal.
"Can't they ever get it right?" he asked me, himself, everyone who had ever lived and nobody really.
"Didn't I say it twice?" he asked me, shaking his head with disgust.
I stared at him in silence wondering where this little impromptu performance was going.
His face was beginning to get red. In fact, it was doing what I believe is called a slow burn. The flow of blood boiling just underneath the surface was rising and leaving streaky patterns on the neck and face the same way a jet leaves its zippered incision on a summer's blue sky.
I was noting that fact. Red face? Check! Anger? Check! Me getting extremely anxious? Check!
Don't sweat the small stuff. That's what my voice mail ad had said. I was looking for someone who didn't sweat the small stuff.
Cheese in omelette. MMMMMM? Not exactly another species gone extinct by my standards.
In as contained a manner as his emotions would allow he caught the attention of the waitress.
I was beginning to hold my breath.
"Miss" he said loudly, with authority, but containing himself just a little in honour of my embarrassment.
Thank God he refrained from snapping his fingers I thought.
I was beginning to slump a little in the booth.
He articulated every word.
"I asked not once but twice for no cheese! This has cheese. I can't EAT cheese," he said.
We were both staring at him now, the waitress and I. Like two parents staring at their eldest who was acting like king of the castle but whom we had deemed a little pain in the ass.

"I'm sorry," she said, whisking the plate from under his nose leaving a faint cheesy smell hanging in the air between us.

I could almost feel the vibrations of barely contained anger levitating.

Not really believing the spectacle that was occurring before me and realizing I'd seen this type of behaviour way too many times before as a child coming from my own father over something equally inane, my own anger molecules began to bubble just below the surface.

I looked him straight in the eyes. With great authority, picking my words in the same manner that he had picked at the cheese, I said ever so slowly, "You can handle it!" I enunciated every word. My tone was low and steady. Each of those words. You. Can. Handle. It. were said as if they were, individually, a complete sentence.
He stopped. His eyes bore into mine. I held my ground. My gaze did not waiver from his but I felt as if I might just wet my pants.

We stayed that way, locked onto each other's willful stares for a second or two and then we were silent.

It was one of those really awkward moments. The kind of moment that makes you wish you were actually just editing a film from the privacy of an editing suite. You would have cut this scene out. Rewound. Start again.

I didn't look to my right. I looked at my plate. The couple who had been so interested in free viewing earlier on had their eyes forward front as well.

I was beginning to wish I could leave. He noticed my fidgeting. "What's wrong?" he asked. "You want to leave?" he asked, reading my body language and my thoughts, neither of which I've ever been good at hiding.

"Well, it's just that I usually don't spend this much time with someone when I first meet them," I said, lying, not wanting to say what could not be said.

More silence.

By this time his cheese-free omelette had arrived. He gingerly lifted one of its mottled corners with the prongs of his fork. Cheese check! Cheese alert! Please don't find any I thought. Please. Please. Pretty Please.
He dug in.

I felt relieved he was feeling a little better. I took the opportunity to inhale. He seemed to be a little less angry. I began to wonder what it must be like to be him. What would it be like to feel so betrayed throughout one's life that even a rather typical error, especially when it comes to service in Canada, like having a waitress get your order wrong - again - could set off paranoia, the betrayal bells, the sense of not being important enough for someone to get it right.

I felt sad for him. I felt sad for myself. He wasn't going to work out. I wouldn't be his dream girl either.

He finished eating and we made small talk. The excitement was over. It was the Boxing Day of our short aquaintance. We were on the other side of a crescendo. It was the week after starting a new job. It was the last day of a vacation. It was Sunday evening. You know what I mean. Something anticipated, now fully experienced and ready to be let go. Move on. Next! The 21st Century's version of hunting and gathering.

We left the restaurant and walked towards my car parked farther down the street.
I had brought him some shortbread that I'd made. It was wrapped in cellophane inside my purse. I hoped I hadn't squished the cookies into crumbly bits. I didn't want to set him off. We stopped beside the curb at my car.

He smiled one of the most genuine smiles I'd seen in a while. It surprised me. He took my hand in his large palm, the same palm that had bolted sets together, hammered stages in place and grabbed at the sleeve of a tiny, whiny movie star.

"It was nice to meet you," he said.

I pulled the shortbread from out of my purse and felt happy that I was going to give him something that I suspected no one else would. In fact, I suspected he was unlikely to get much of anything for Christmas or any gifts on any other days.

"That's a really nice gesture," he said. "Thank you!"

"Well, you know, I hardly every bake. I only bake short bread and only at Christmas," I said catching myself, realizing he wouldn't care when I baked. My babbling was diminishing the moment.

"I thought so too," I added, quickly, as an afterthought, shyly, feeling the creeping flush of embarrassment cross my cheeks.

We stood there for a second each trying to decide whether hugging would be an option or even a good idea.

Apparently, we each decided against it. He would realize not to go there. Afterall, he was an expert in reading body language like everyone who has ever lived with the kind of uncertainty and negativity he must have, in that place, and every place he had been before, emotionally, to lead him there.

You know the place I mean. In the Joint!

December 12, 2007

Guardian Angel

I can still recall my feelings as she graced my presence that winter’s day. I was standing alongside the road in a town where streets swelled with tourists in the summer and turned sparse and lonely in the winter. I was waiting for a parade to begin. Parents had bundled their babies’ heads with crazy toques. Boys, doing what they do in winter, shoved, strutted, raced, and smashed each other with snowballs. Their shrieks were captured in clouds of frozen breath and held on earth for a moment like a comic book caption.

I was alone. Just me and my camera awaited Santa, sleigh bells and Christmas music to pass by and provide comfort through ritual.

The weather was the way it was there in December. Below freezing. I kept my legs moving. On left foot, on right foot, back to left. The crunch of the snow sounded underfoot like the breaking of Styrofoam packing chips. I cursed the wait. I checked the time with two mothers, heads huddled, comparing their children’s school-year events.

The sun glinted off the snow reminding me of the stucco we’d pick off the sides of my best friend’s house when we had been of the age where parades had really mattered. I began daydreaming about my favourite part of a parade. Xylophone notes piercing the distant air as the band marched closer. Parents dragging toddlers and squeezing their way into spots nearest the curb. Eyes squinting as the baton twirled too high reaching for the clouds the way children’s feet on swings tap the air. Older and bolder children dart bird-like into the street grabbing at the candy now strewn across pavement much the way bird seed drops in patterns at the base of a fir tree. The whine of the fire truck’s engine drowns out crying babies and little girls dream about sitting atop buggies pulled by Clydesdale horses. Those same little girls, hairsprayed and ironed, imagine waving to the crowd. They could not yet know, wouldn’t even want to know, that being crowned ice-princess wouldn’t really make anything more clear.

But for me, at this time, this parade didn’t really matter. Just another event it was. It could have been a minor hockey game. As they say in the ‘biz, I was searching for a "photo opp" hoping to replace white space with familiar faces on the pages of the small weekly newspaper where I was filling in as Editor. I was too cold and tired for this. Get the shots, get back to my desk, lay out the paper and get home I thought. I was soon to leave this small place to return to Vancouver.

I was distracted by anticipation and intuitions all proving, in hindsight, to be true.
I almost didn’t hear her greeting. “Hello,” she said, more through her gentle smile than through words.

Then, as if her soft-as-cotton-candy breath had crossed my cheek, my head turned in her direction. She appeared, apparition-like. Had someone painted her into existence when I wasn’t looking? She announced herself through her reflection off the south-facing window on a tooth-paste clean, wooden house. She reached out in brilliance as if to say, “It’s not so bad you know? I’m always here with you. Today I thought I’d let you see me. I think you need to see me. What do you think?”

I was silent. I held my breath. “Glorious,” I replied, surprised at uttering that word aloud. She was glorious. Gazing upon the flourish of gold and black and silver that formed her painted being, I could almost believe she was real. She was not a figment of my imagination. “Is she my guardian angel?” I asked no one in particular. I was embarrassed. What kind of a question was that?

Her shimmering presence filled that entire window. A swish of a halo floated atop her honey-white curls. But, mostly her wings held my awe. Their luminescence curved high across her back and melted into the black and grey and golden feathery lightness of each wingtip. I squinted into their lightness. I looked away. I stared back. She held my gaze. For a split second I thought I felt the gentle kiss of her lips against my eyebrows.

She would not permit me to focus on the slush and stones on the side of the road. Her slender fingertips, would have held my chin if my gaze had attempted to look anywhere but up.

For the first time that day, or more accurately, for the first time that week, I noticed the patterns of the winter sky. I compared the shades of the evergreens to the blue overhead. I inhaled the shiver of winter and felt it travel through my nose to my lungs. Children stood infront of me and behind. I noticed them. Each one had that expression that only blesses children when everything is for the first time and seems like forever and their awakening rejuvenates parents in a way expectant parents secretly and unfailingly hope a new baby might.

“Now you’re paying attention,” she whispered in praise. It was then, it hit me. I was standing in one of my own dreams. How had it crept up without my notice?

I was the only woman there that day holding a camera with the sole intent of capturing a moment of that town’s history. It wasn’t an important moment the way we think history must be. Nothing about that day in that place mattered to the world. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe anything could have mattered that day to anyone as much as that moment mattered to me. I was doing what I’d been dreaming of doing for years. The evidence spread out before me. I was doing what I’d dreamt about at 10 years old when I’d unwrapped a small blue, plastic typewriter for Christmas. My fingers had travelled instinctively across the rigid white keys of my newest gift. Twenty-two years later I was standing in that dream from the past.

I looked around and saw. I knew I must keep some of that happiness just for myself. I must horde it for when I needed it again, most.

Turning to my angel on that window, I focused and released the shutter. A little boy was watching me with curiosity. He quickly glanced away as my eyes met his and my attention snapped back to the procession on the street.

And now, especially if I’m having trouble believing in dreams, I focus on her by focusing on the ordinary right in front of me.

I wonder if I was to return to that same street in that picture perfect small town if she would be there?

For now she makes her home in an antique frame in my bathroom.

Yesterday she captured my attention following a lengthy indifference and asked with a motherly urgency and concern, “What’s your next dream?”

December 02, 2007

Strange Place for a Reunion

Just following my mom's memorial, I'm in the reception area as people are filtering into the room and who should come up to me but this guy I dated for about a year when I was 21.

For a split second,as he came towards me, I dissociated and was confused about where I was.

What is HE doing here? I thought to myself, my brain calculations speeding up.

"J. Wow. What are you doing here?" I heard myself saying in a way that sounded very far away all the while still feeling confused, like I was double-checking (no pun intended given his last name which I will refrain from using) whether I really was where I thought I was.

"Well, you know, you've heard of wedding crashers? I thought I'd try funeral crashing!" he said.

I laughed, a barely audible one syllable laugh, and then continued to just stare at him, not saying a thing.

After a minute, probably less, I literally walked away from him without even saying anything. It was just like, okay, can't process this baby! Next!

So, a couple of days pass and I think, that was a tad rude of me. Besides, my curiosity got the best of me. I look him up in the phone book and leave a message apologizing for being what must have seemed rude, not that such behaviour would be out of the ordinary for me with some of the men I've known. Not that their idiocy hasn't warranted such rudeness at times.

He calls me back. We get together for a coffee.

Just as our meeting is coming to an end, he says to me, "So, you never asked me how I ended up at your mom's thing?"

Well, I guess you saw the obit in the paper, I say.

"Actually, I was lying awake at 1:00 am one night and I thought to myself, I should Google Gayle Mavor. Your mom's obit came up. I realized that she'd just died. I debated whether to show up and I thought, what the heck, so I did."

I found this explanation very amusing, mainly because who admits such a thing and secondly because it's just another reminder about why you should never assume the reasons behind why anyone does anything.

How did anyone ever look up their past before Google? At least 40% of the search engine traffic must consist of people looking up people from their past. Unrequited loves. Ex husbands and wives. The ones they used to work for. The ones they had an affair with. Former employers. Future employees. You name it! It's dangerous. Especially when so many people have the same names. There's a young American woman with my name. She talks about things that I don't want people to think I talk about on teen sites that I don't want anyone to think I visit.

I then say to him, "So do you recall our last interaction?"

"You called me one friday night and said, "Hi, I'm just flipping through my address book and I came across your name and I thought I'd call you." This was after I hadn't spoken to him in a very long time.
I responded, at the time, with four curt words: "Well, take it out!" [my name that is...referring to its location in his address book].

That's all I said before the conversation, as would be appropriate, ended. And that was about a decade ago.

I believe it was 1998 and I was going through a particularly difficult time then. I'll throw that in as a feeble excuse although, in hindsight, even I amaze (and amuse) myself.

"Ah, yes," he said laughing, "but I can distinguish between real anger and personality."

(Not with 100% accuracy I thought to myself)

But, that statement did remind me of one of his redeeming features. He was really funny! (albeit in a really warped kind of way!)

December 01, 2007

Walking Towards the Fountain of Youth

Thinking of how difficult it would be for my father in these first days after my mother has been gone, waking up alone, going to bed alone, not having my mother around to serve as he had become accustomed, I asked him if he'd like to come into Vancouver and go for a walk around the park. His voice seemed shaky but I think the prospect seemed inviting. I told him to call me back when he decided whether he was up to it. He did.

I went to pick him up at the Burrard skytrain station and I was waiting and waiting. Geez, you'd think I was HIS parent. I sounded like an anxious mother on the phone as I gave him instructions. Be careful on the stairs at the skytrain stations. Hold onto the railings. Don't carry too much money on you. What are you wearing? It's really cold today. Are you wearing your winter coat? Don't forget the gloves. What kind of shoes do you have on? Burrard comes right after Granville. Get off after the Granville Station and I'll pick you up on the side of the station the way I used to with mom.

He FINALLY shows up. It took him SO long that I was having all these scenarios in my head. Maybe he's been accosted by some low lifes. Maybe the train has stopped on the tracks. Maybe he didn't hear me properly and he's actually waiting at Granville. Maybe he was here early and waited and I was here later than expected and he got back on the train. It went on and on.

Finally, I see his familiar cap, the one that makes him look like the Scotsman that he is, and he explains that he somehow got off at the Waterfront Station and had to turn around and come back one.

We got back to my apartment and we set off. I noticed that when you're walking around the park with an old person who appears to be related to you people treat you better. It's as if you get the same reaction when you're with a baby or with a really cute dog. They smile. They say hello more.

I'll spare you the details of our every step but suffice to say that when you're 10 months short of your 90th birthday and you can walk around the entire Stanley Park Seawall, minus the detour at the totem poles, then you're not doing too badly.

In fact, and this cracked me up, as we're approaching 2nd beach, he says to me, "Is this your normal pace?" implying that maybe he thought I'd slowed it down for him. "Well, ya," I say. "Why, is this too slow for you?"
"No, but I tend to walk just a shade faster," he says.

By the time we get past Third beach and the Canadian flag on the Sylvia Hotel is visible, he says to me, "I think we should try and keep up with her," he says, pointing to a woman doing a slow speedwalk just a bit in front of us. Now, this is the point where I can usually begin to feel the back of my thighs aching just a little but I'll be damned if I'm going to be outdone by a 90 year old. So, we move a little faster knowing that the faster we move the sooner we get lunch.

We pick up the pace and head into the Sylvia Hotel. I did notice that he could barely get up the stairs. I told him that next time, perhaps we'd just stick to my hour-long route. He agreed.

We sat down at the Sylvia at the window and Bruce came to serve us. That's the beauty of the Sylvia. Consistency!

I said "Dad, when was the last time you walked around the park?"

"Well, my parents would sometimes rent an apartment and we'd come here in the summer when I was a kid to be close to English Bay. I don't think I've done that since I was a kid," he said. "There used to be a pier coming right out from the beach over there he said pointing a little north and buildings on that side as well."

I think my father is adaptable. I think he has figured out something about the fountain of youth. It has something to do with lots of walking. And, forgetting about how old you are. I notice he has a habit of thinking people much younger than him are just around his own age. Apparently denial is also good for longevity!

It was a good day.