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September 26, 2008

Orchestrated Coincidence?

Tonight, I go to a bar down the street on Denman with my friend Dee to have a drink because I'm leaving and I need to cram in as much quality time with my friends as I can.

We're sitting at the bar and there is this couple beside us. At first we're just talking to each other but I keep looking at the woman and I think to myself, she looks familiar.

Finally, we all start talking and I say to her, you look familiar to me but I'm pretty sure I don't know you.

Then, I say, Are you a librarian? I have no idea why I say this except that she kind of looks like a librarian. Her husband says, No, she's a television producer.

Then, I ask them, where do you work? What television station? He says, I work at the CBC. I say, how long have you worked there? He says 25 years. I say, Did you ever know someone named Mac Rymal? He says, I worked with Mac Rymal. I was friends with Mac Rymal. Mac Rymal lived on my float home. I say, Oh my God. I had a relationship with him. I know your boat. I loved that boat. I can't believe that you owned the boat that Mac lived on. What's your name? My name is Paul H. (I won't give his full name). Oh my god, I say, Mac used to talk about you and how it used to be your boat. I know who you are!

Now. What is the chance, in a city as large as Vancouver, that I would end up talking to a man in a bar who used to own the boat that the man who had the most significant impact on my life to date (and probably forever) would actually have owned? I say to him. Oh my god. You know what I loved the most about your boat? I loved those bookcases!

Suddenly our glasses are being filled with more red wine.He's buying us drinks.

He says, I can't believe I made those bookcases. I'm not very good with my hands but I did love those bookcases. They were made of pine. Ya, I say, they were awesome!

It was one of those moments in life where you just think, okay, there is life after death and Mac is orchestrating this. There is no way that I would end up in a bar, having a conversation with the man who owned the float home where I had the most profound experiences of my life; experiences that would change me forever and I would feel as if I finally got to meet the man who Mac had talked about and who had owned the boat that was our little "love shack".

Life is too weird. I do not think for one second that our meeting was a coincidence.

Unbelievable! I feel like it's Mac's way of saying, I'm with you Gayle. Don't worry about being on your own and being lonely in Saltspring because baby, I'm with you. Still. After all these year!

It's just too amazing for words! And, it brings me great peace.
It's too crazy but I have faith that it is an orchestrated coincidence no matter now impossible that would be to prove!

September 25, 2008

Intercultural Orchestra

Last night Colleen invited me to something called New Sound Worlds at The Vancouver Public Library.

Interestingly enough, I had actually met the composer about 8 years ago when I wrote a story on the Sacred Music Festival for Shared Vision magazine about the premiere performance of his Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra.. At that time, his vision for combining traditional musical instruments and musicians from different countries was in its infancy.

As I sat in the audience last night I kept thinking how pleased the former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau would have been to see such a sight and experience the sounds. The musicians hailed from all over the world - West Africa, Uruguay, China, Indian, Israel, Ireland - all now residents of Canada and making interesting new sounds to present the ultimate representation of Trudeau's vision for a multicultural Canada.

So intercultural refers to the instruments and typically not instruments that many of us are all that familiar with as well as the multicultural mosaic of the musicians' heritages.

The Chinese Long Zither combines with the flute/Saxaphone. The Santur, combines with the Tabla. The Shakuhachi flute is backdropped by a Bass. There's the accordian, tin whistle combining with voice and african and latin american drums. A Bansuri. An Oud. A Sitar.

The best part was the end of the concert where all the instruments came together with the musicians following not so much a score but potential variations that they are welcome to improvise with, led by conductor Moshe Denburg who calls what he was doing not so much conducting as "conduction" and playing a piece written by Pepe Danza.

The thing is, the score is not determined in the same way that let's say one by Mozart or Bach is. It's not as if each musician has a piece of music that demands that they play the notes, exactly as dictated by the composer.

Instead, what happens, if I've understood correctly, is that the conductor determines which instruments play when and which combinations of instruments take place until at times every instrument is involved and he is translating Danza's composition based on his knowledge of how the instruments sound individually as well as the basic components of the variations of the score.

I'm not sure that makes sense when I write it but to hear it and watch the conductor in action as he chooses the combinations is quite amazing because it has the potential to sound like complete chaos; fusion nightmare as I like to describe it but for the most part, because the musicians in this group are so experienced and talented, they are able to pull it off with the audience being treated to a very rare musical experience.

Someone, not sure who, said you need to know the rules before you can break them. These musicians, professionals with backgrounds from all over the world are relying on their expertise with their instruments, their unique personal experiences, and based on how they interacted with each other, friendships that are steeped in reverance, to make it all sound just as it's called: A new world of sound. One that you'll definitely want to visit.

September 23, 2008

North of Secrets

There is just something over the top exciting about receiving a book in the mail that you created. For me this book, North of Secrets, represents so many things.

It's a representation of a decade worth of personal history. It's a record of some people who have been very important to me. It has some of my favorite photos. It outlines some of my thoughts related to therapy, of emotional struggles, healing and the ability to change.

It contains many poems that I wrote from the past when it seemed as if, as a result of depression and some very sad events, that I would not so much think in words or sentences but in poems that seemed to come to me as if given to me by someone else fully formed. They seemed to come so easily back then when most of them were written in the late 90s.

It contains 59 of my favorite photos from places I've been that have most significantly left their mark on me, for better or worse: The West End and Stanley Park. Saltspring. Abiquiu, New Mexico and Santa Fe. Salmon Arm. Chiapas, Mexico.

Yes, I admit it, these are not exactly international destinations of intrigue but places, in my small life, that are alive in my memories and in photos that capture my take on a time and place where very significant experiences happened for me.

I just can't say enough about how great it is that an idea/reality such as Blurb.com exists so that anyone who wants to has the ability to showcase their creativity. Why wait to be famous when the likelihood of that happening is less than winning a lottery?

There's more than enough room in the world for all representations of creativity, not just of the chosen few that are rather arbitrarily determined (by whom?) to be worthy of public recognition.

I don't believe anything has made me happier in the past year than the process involved in putting together this book and now being able to hold it in my hands knowing that I have created for myself, a bit of a legacy, one that I would have no other way to create since I have never had, nor ever will have, children. (But, in a way this is even better because, unlike offspring, I had full control of the outcome!)

I've chosen to keep this book private on the Blurb.com site because of the extremely personal nature of the contents and because some of the photos of people within it, but [if you are a personal friend of mine] and you would like a copy, I can order one for you. The cost is $25.00

It contains 44 pages of 17 poems and 59 photos (along with descriptions about how the poems came to be in terms of the person, place or thing that sparked their origin).

Here's a little teaser:

On the surface, this book may seem to be about some of my poetry and photos.

And, that it is!

But, those are the end products of a much more important journey that forced me inside to that placed located north of my own secrets.

We all know when we're keeping a secret. But, what of that place that's even deeper and full of secrets that we may not even know we have: the subconscious.

It wasn't a place I thought I'd ever be visiting. A melancholy place, always present, extremely bothersome, causing all sorts of chaos in my everyday existence until the emotions were unearthed and expressed...

September 22, 2008

Moving right along

Things are getting kind of blurry these days.It could be because I'm moving faster than usual. You know that old saying, a picture's worth a thousand words? Well, it's not really. When it comes to moving and packing, I have only one word. I think you can guess what it is. Starts with an F and ends with a k.

How is it possible that when there is only one of me, I feel like I have been stuck in packing hell for the past two weeks. You prepare to pack. You pack. You pack and pack and pack. You tell other people you're packing. You get advice on packing. You tell 'em what you packed. You unpack. And, then you unpack and unpack and you eliminate the boxes you painstakingly accummulated as if you're watching a grainy, documentary in reverse.

What did I do when I actually had a full-time job? Was I just some highly efficient moving machine then? Or is it that when I moved into this place, I had lived in a bachelor suite and therefore, I had less stuff.

You'd think I was Rob Feenie given how much stuff I've taken out of my kitchen and at this point, I can't even recall the last time I had someone for dinner as a result of my own little personal financial crisis which is on par with the one in the U.S.

I feel like preparing to move has become my full-time job. It has been all consuming. Don't talk to me. I'm preparing to move. Can't come with you. I'm preparing to move. Yes, I've had on the same clothes for 3 days. I know. I'm moving. What do you expect from me?

But, as a result of the impending move, I've been many, many new places. I've been to the computer recycling depot and discovered the place where you can take propane/butane camping tanks to be recycled right along with empty paint tins (seems like a dangerous combination).

I've come across enough old eyeglasses in my underwear drawer to provide sight to a small village in India. So, I dropped off the frames for that purpose. The only thing is, when they see what they look like in those previously fashionable but now highly oversized frames, I'm not sure they won't just resort back to blindness as the preferred option.

I've hung out at an empty lot across the street, swallowing my pride while lining up my stuff and watching the human experiment known as the bargain hunter rummage through it. Very interesting. The best part of that was the enjoyable often humorous banterings with the people I met passing on the sidewalk.

I've had a long philosophical discussion with the Iranian owner behind the counter where I'm renting the truck. When he found out where I was moving, even though he'd never been, but just liked the sound of it, he somehow decided to open up about his own frustrated existence where, instead of writing short stories he must work behind the counter day and night in the family business, no choice, because that's how it works he says. I get up. I come here. I work. I work. I work. I go home. I eat. I go to bed. All the while I'm listening to him thinking, why do I bring out this stuff in people? I just wanted to book a truck to pack my crap into. Therapy is extra. Five Cents.

I've sold, just today, what might have been an authentic Cowichan sweater. It's been in my posession ever since 1992. Seems like time to let it go. The prospective buyer, picking her way carefully around boxes and moving flotsam and jetsam was modelling it amidst my junk. Why do you want one of these? I ask. Well, I had a boyfriend. I used to love that sweater but when we broke up he got really mean so I had to get rid of him and it. But, lately, I've been thinking so much about that sweater and I decided I needed to get another one. Sweater. Not boyfriend. And, voila! Thanks to Craigslist, she found mine. Here take it. Deal of the century. Anything else I can sell you? Seemed only right that if she was buying the Cowichan sweater I might as well throw in a free copy of Peter C. Newman's Caesars of the Wilderness book. Anybody looking for the 15th and 125th anniversary edition of Bartlett's quotations? Cheap. Real cheap! You can quote me on that!

I've let go of the graduation present I received 24 years ago from SFU. My Pentax Me Super. Great camera but 24 years seems long enough to hang onto it. It was an awesome present. It served its purpose and well, it was, priceless but for you with 2lenses and the camera bag $100 I said to the nice very attractive Asian girl from Langley who wants it to learn photography the old fashioned way.

All this has actually made me reflect back to last summer (was it only last summer?)when a certain person was in town helping his sister move her entire house and I was totally oblivious to how much work that must have been. Didn't care. Whatever. Nothing to do with me. Not my problem. What were you saying? You sound kinda stressed I said when it came to the car. Like Duh!

I was placing some demands on him related to wanting to see him a third time and NOW I just think, wow, I can't believe he seemed so calm about that.

Maybe that's why he showed up on the third night smelling like sweat! Geez. He was probably running around like a maniac and then he had to park in the West End probably 10 blocks from my house. If someone was placing any kind of demands on ME right about now, I'd be like get out of my way you crazy *&^%! I don't have time for an inane visit with you that will lead to the mutual obliteration of spirit that is inevitable.

Amazing what a little perspective will do for you and even more amazing how one year can be so different from the last.

I may never get off that island once I move there. It just won't be worth it to leave. I expect moving is a lot like childbirth. The pain of it all is just a vague memory that grows more distant with each passing year, as long as you're not crazy enough to move (or have another baby) ever again!

September 21, 2008

Perspective: A Moving Target

It just occurred to me today that I am moving to a place where there is only one traffic light. How fantastic is that?!

Here's some of the things that have crossed my mind about what I think I will miss about Vancouver in no particular order.

1. Being able to see my friends whenever I want without having to catch a ferry.
2. Indian restaurants.
3. Stanley Park (not that I won't be in another paradise).
4. The Stanley Park Rose Garden and the way that you can watch the seasons by watching how it changes.
5. Neil calling me spontaneously after he's been up to Prospect Point doing some shipspotting and he wants to have a beer at the Sylvia.
6. Colleen spontaneously dropping by for a visit.
7. Lisa.
8. Not being around to kayak with Lisa and Heather and Karen in Deep Cove.
9. The clip clop sounds of the Clydesdale horses pulling a buggy down Robson Street on their way back to the Park more often than not a bride and a groom seated in the carriage on the way to have their photos taken.
10. Coffees with Keiko.
11. Being able to walk down the street to the library and to just about any amenity you can think of within a 10 block radius.
12. Sunday breakfasts and walks with Dee.
13. Conversations with Dave.
14. Leila.
15. Dinners at Peggy`s place with Catherine and Chris.
16. The High Tech Communicator`s Exchange events.
17. Sitting on my balcony and just watching people coming in and out of the park.
18. All the free festivals and entertainment available in Vancouver so that even if you`re broke, you can still entertain yourself quite well.
19. Gelato and cupcakes (that`s undoubtedly a good thing).
20. Not being able to easily visit my father and the times we have spent together at Crescent Beach.
21. Missing out on See Seven with Gwen.

Here`s what I`m looking forward to:

1.Living in a place where there is only one traffic light.
2.Hopefully, having more time to concentrate on writing poetry and fiction.
3.Taking in yoga classes at the Saltspring Center.
4.All the creative people I will undoubtedly continue to meet on Saltspring by writing for Aqua and the paper.
5. Learning about a new community and getting involved in it.
6.Perhaps taking up a musical instrument such as the fiddle because Saltspring has an excellent fiddle community and it would be great to get back to music, something I haven't done since I played classical piano.
7.Doing something for money part-time that is very different than anything I`ve done to date.
8.Learning how to chop kindling for my wood-burning stove (I`m sure that novelty will wear off in less than a month.)
9. Living somewhere so quiet that you can`t hear the sounds of traffic.
10. The festivals that take place on the island and living in a place where the
entertainment opportunities are `manageable` if you know what I mean.
11. Enjoying living in a place I`ve wanted to live for a very long time and recognizing that I made that happen just because I decided to.
12. Exploring with my camera the places I`ve yet to see on the island after all these years.
13. Knowing that I have lived well in Vancouver, enjoyed Vancouver, especially in the past 7 years, and am leaving without regret or feeling like I will feel as if I'm missing out on something because I'm ready to leave.
14. Feeling like I'm moving to a place that really fits who I am.
15. Opting out of a collective consciousness that is continually in need of more...
16. Stuff I can`t even know that I will undoubtedly enjoy about the place.

September 17, 2008

Slow Pedestrian X

-this photo has nothing to do with this post. It's just cool dont'cha think?

I thought I might treat you to a little guest observation from my friend Michelle Cook a.k.a Meesh.

Meesh and I have found ourselves in similar inexplicable situations in the past year wondering what to do next with the second half of our lives; something that we can sink our teeth into that isn't topped with butter or rolled in gooey brown and white cinnamon sugar. Not an easy combo to beat I might add.

Meesh amuses me profoundly, usually first thing in the morning, when I open my e-mail and especially when she is in Ottawa, given the time difference, I can't wait to drink my coffee and read her witty observations.

She has spent her time changing "official residences" between Calgary and Ottawa, depending on when her mother, who was appointed secretary to the Governor General and herald chancellor in September 2006, is called away on very, very, very important official Canadian business. In February 2007, her mother received her commission as deputy of the Governor General. In other words, she hangs with Michaelle Jean.

For me, it's perhaps not so embarrassing to be in this state of inertia/angst/bewilderment because I don't have parental success to live up to, or to live down. I'm never sure which it is. But, Ms. Cook has a mother who has carved out a niche for herself in quite definite ways.

My mom worked part-time in Hardware at Woodwards, a well-known, no longer in existence department store in B.C.

Michelle's mom, as I have copied off the web, served as legislative assistant to the late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Mayor Ralph Klein appointed her as the City of Calgary's chief of protocol for the XV Olympic Winter Games. Mrs. Cook is a member of the board of the Alberta Literacy Foundation and is the communications advisor to the Parliamentary Precinct Oversight Advisory Committee. [What the hell is that? I think perhaps Meesh and I need to make up a title for ourselves akin to that.]She is the recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal in recognition of Canadians who have helped create the Canada of today.

So, this morning I receive an e-mail from the younger Cook who is currently dogsitting for her mother who lives in some official Georgian mansion on the property of Rideau Hall.

Substantial parts of Meesh's e-mail have been omitted by me to protect the innocent.

It says...

"I'm exhausted. I haven't had one undisturbed night's sleep in a week. Honestly, I don't know how my mom puts up with these dogs. They're a going concern. On Sunday night, Pucci got sprayed by a skunk! I had to wash him in V8 juice. The bathroom looked like something right out of CSI. I washed Bella down as well just in case she got some secondary squirt on her. But Pucci still stinks and both of them have this orange hue. That's what happens when you wash fluffy white dogs in thick red liquid. My mom's away until tomorrow. When she left, they were beautiful, pristine, sweet-smelling, newly groomed dogs. Now they look -- and reek - like street mongrels!"

This one follows the theme...

"I'm sitting here in Ottawa alone in the Amityville horror house (er, Canadian heritage residence) with the smelly doggies (they go to the groomers tomorrow for de-skunking and re-fluffing!)

And in another...
At least the label "expensive child" is not as bad as "slow pedestrian" Meesh says to me. This is what I decided I have become, she says, while I was walking the doggies the other day in the ritzy neighbourhood behind Rideau Hall.

I was truddle-ing along in my sweat pants, with my wee plastic bags full of scooped poo, and my hair all askew as all these expensive cars and buff cyclists whizzed by me, living their fast-paced, focused, purposeful wealthy lives, with not a [second] thought to forcing me and the doggies onto the grass.

Then, up ahead I saw a sign. It said "Slow Pedestrian X". Now, I know it meant: Slow down. Pedestrian crossing. But at that moment, I felt "this is what I have become. I am a slow pedestrian X.

Everyone else is racing by anonymous me as I amble along aimlessly with smelly dogs and bags of poo!" I am a slow pedestrian X.

Oh my she says, our theme for today seems to be all about running in the other direction - from bad jobs, bad dates - except for me the slow pedestrian. I'm sticking to walking."


(At least she CAN walk. This afternoon while out with my friend Dee as we were heading into Stanley Park, I did one of those spectacular running falls. You know the kind. You trip, your foot gets stuck while you're moving forward as if you stepped in gum and you find yourself being propelled by the devil or something.

It's as if you're a surfer headin for the big waves. You know you're going down but to prevent the inevitable, you somehow start running to postpone the inevitable while doing a duck and cover manouvre that changes into mimicking the roll of a professional stuntwoman. Finally, your hands hit the pavement first, as if you're coming into a skid at first base with all the bases loaded. It's a shock.

But, I have to say, in spite of what you often read in the papers about Vancouverites, three strangers came running to my rescue.

Are you okay? they said peering down at me. I believe they were a man and two women. I look up in disarray. Dee is a bit speechless. I only catch the glimpse of a mauve T-shirt as the woman wearing it noticed I was fine and decided not to intervene afterall. The man with the bicycle helmet is the person I stare most intently at, as if he's an anaestesiologist (if you can spell that you win a prize) calling me back to planet earth.

He's trying to conceal a smirk like the one I would have had if I was watching me fall,(I lie, I'd be laughing uncontrollably and trying to hide that fact) and finally my own laughter signals to this nice stranger that his is acceptable so he lets out a little relieved chuckle. (Slow Pedestrian X. I think not! That's, Meesh's self deprecating moniker, not mine. Baby steps I say!).

September 15, 2008

Lunapad Lunacy

This post should have a warning for guys (or maybe the entire human race). Too much female information. You don't want to know this. It's already scary enough I'm sure.

I'm on a theme now though so if you're not into the weird and unusual roadshow then you might not want to visit until after I've moved.

So, I'm cleaning out the bathroom and I come across the above artefact in a bag. Oh my God. I'd almost forgotten about these.

Canadians are known for a lot of inventions. And this is another one. This is called the Lunapad. I'm sure it must have been developed on a Gulf Island. Maybe Hornby actually. Ya, I can see some Hornby-ite coming up with this idea.

It has to be at least 10 years ago now when I went to some Christmas craft fair on Main Street and I saw these. I thought to myself what a great idea. I am sick to death of buying tampons. They're not environmentally friendly. God only knows what that bleached absorbent stuff they use to make them is doing to my Vijayjay as Oprah likes to call it.

So, caught up in the Christmas shopping frenzy I inexplicably rationalized the purchase of a Lunapad with leopard skin fabric. Talk about impulse buy. Not something I'd personally want to be unwrapping from under the tree on Christmas morning. Those lesbians are damned good saleswomen!

Hey, if you have to bleed every month then you might as well do it on something that makes you smile.

I recall that I got home, I tried them on. I wrapped the little winged part around my underwear and then snapped them shut. I looked down. I was silent for a minute. I smiled a pained smile. I let out something that fell somewhere between a laugh and a question mark. I was like who wears these? I mean, you might as well get an extra large pair of Depends and wear them overtop your jeans!

But, in defence of the Lunapad, somebody's using them because they still exist and they even have an "international" homepage.

They fit really well with the tradition nowadays where mothers help their daughters celebrate their first period.

Intellectually, I like that concept. But, if you're my age and you had uptight parents who were 40 years older than you, that idea is almost other-planetary. It's just too radical a concept to celebrate menstruation. Afterall, menstruation doesn't even really exist does it? You wouldn't think so except on TV where all those little nymphs in the whitest of white clothing are running through fields of wildflowers or pretending their tampon is an extra large packet of sucrose when they're on a blind date with a new hot guy.

I like the idea of celebrating it because then you'd at least have an excuse, if you needed one, to do something fun. Apparently, if you celebrate it, it's less likely that you'll bleed to death because your psyche will be telling your uterus that you're fine with it. You'll be one with the cycle. Acceptance is the key to peace - in body and in mind!

If I had a daughter, I'm sure I'd be into celebrating it. I'd say, hey honey, let's put on our crinkly see-through, gauzy white skirts, go out into the forest, make daisy chains for our hair, hold hands, chant, light incense, do the yoga tree pose and then bury some pinecones as a metaphorical representation of the transition from childhood to puberty. It will be fun! Wheeeeee! Damn near almost makes wearing a Lunapad sound like dawning your favorite T-shirt.

So, amazingly, it's been quite fun packing so far. And, all is not lost. I will not be throwing out the Lunapad. Not only would I not want to confuse some dumpster diver but I've figured out another use for the felt.

I have this favorite pair of jeans that have two growing holes in the crotch. I can just cut out patches from the Leopard skin Lunapad, sew them on, and feel good about recycling! Period.

September 13, 2008

On Guard for their Canadian Queen

As I am beginning to pack boxes with the feeling that I am so ready to get out of here, it's very interesting to me to look at the things that I can't bring myself to part with.

My friend Michelle, who has moved a fair bit, told me that a friend of hers once said, moving is when you literally place your hands on every single thing you own and determine its value.

I find it very interesting that for me, the only things that truly matter are my camera, my computer, my portfolio of writing, and things that have sentimental value attached to them.

Now, perhaps that's because I don't own anything of any monetary value. But, I don't think it would be any different for me even if I owned things that monetarily were worth alot. Except, right about now, I'd be selling them!

I already knew this and experienced it when my parents moved from their house into an assisted living facility. All that stuff, as George Carlin so wisely pointed out years ago, has almost no meaning. You accumulate it, it serves its purpose, and hey, don't get me wrong, it's nice to have nice stuff.

I can think of a couple I know whose stuff is fabulous and I'd love to have their stuff but I'm pretty sure that in the end, it's not that significant to them either. It makes their home aesthetically pleasing, they can entertain there very well, and their daily existence comfortable but I know them well enough to know that if they didn't have it, it wouldn't matter that much to them.

So I have to laugh when I look around my apartment because I'm purging all those things that I don't really "love" which I have no trouble with at all unlike some people. I like paring down. It makes me uncomfortable to have too much stuff. I feel like its too much responsibility which is kind of immature but there you go. Except I am a lot more sentimental than most people would know.

Take the little soliders in the photo above. They're tacky. The paint has worn off their lips. They're worthless. Actually, they are salt and pepper shakers but I never use them for that. They just sit on top of my stove. I bought them in some cheap tourist trinket shop near a place where I was staying in London in September 2002.

But, when I look at them, I don't see that. I see the memories I have of that trip. I see how that trip made me feel. I see that trip as a time in my life when things had begun to turn around for me after a difficult time.

I don't think I've ever had such a sense of gratitude as the day I was standing on a boat coming down the Thames into London from Greenwich and the sun was shining and we went past the parliament buildings and Big Ben. It was at that moment,out of sheer almost disbelief and joy, tears began rolling down my face.

It had been a very difficult time between 1998 and 2001 and that's a long time for your life to be a challenge. I never imagined that I'd ever get off the North American continent given what had gone down and how little money I had.

But, then I had a car accident which, yes, on the surface is a bad thing. But, I wasn't injured. I was 100% not at fault, my car was totalled and I got what was to me, a lot of money, for my Volkswagon Golf. That was my ticket to Europe.

So those little soldiers to me represent possibility. No matter what is going on in your life, you can not predict the future and how that will unfold. No matter where you're at, things can change quickly. We have to hope in ways that will make us happy.

So, the soliders, stay.

September 11, 2008

Camper Man to the Rescue

I've been very lax on keeping up with the blog lately so here's another story from the Saltspring trip.

Meet Murray. Who's Murray you ask? Well, if you've been following my blog posts you'll recall that when I needed to go pee one afternoon on a beach on Saltspring with no washroom in sight, Murray was the man with the can. I stole that line from him. I like it. It's funny!

How did I possibly meet up again with Murray you ask? Friday afternoon. I'm wandering through Ganges. I'm just passing time when suddenly I hear my name. Someone shouts out Gayle! I think to myself, that's my name. I don't know anybody here. Especially a guy. I look and sure enough it's the guy with the camper. Murray. I've been looking all over for you he says. What? You're stalking me I say? (God, not another one).

Hi Murray. To make a very long story short, Murray and I got along great. We went kayaking. We went out for dinner. And, yes, because I didn't want to come home on Saturday, I ended up staying in his camper in a campsite on Saltspring. Not "with" him in the biblical sense, just in his camper.

We had a great time. He's very nice. He has a great sense of humour. He's not tedious to be around. If not for Murray, I would never have stayed on Saltspring until Sunday and I would never have met Jacqueline.

I owe Murray big time. First the camper pee. Then, food, shelter, kayaking, company. Murray was like my little saviour.

Anyway, I just have so many adventures whenever I go to Saltspring. I don't know why.

I just hope they don't end when I move there.

Jacqueline and Pacino

Before I went to Saltspring I discovered this free paper there full of free classified ads.

I decided I'd put out a request for a place to live, go fishin' so to speak and see what I could hook.

My ad said something like 40-something, friendly, creative, clean and responsible female writer. Saltspring bound. The dream? Small cabin. But all options considered (which in hindsight cracks me up). What does THAT mean? It's just good to be open to possibilities that's all.

Then, I left and promptly forgot that I'd even placed the silly thing. Lots of stuff happened over there and so on Saturday I got a call from a woman who had seen my ad. She seemed exceptionally lively suggesting that I should come and look at her place. At that point, I'd sort of decided that perhaps living there wasn't going to happen afterall because the job I had gone to check out didn't pan out.

But, then Sunday came, the ferry didn't leave until 3:30 pm and I thought what the hell. Let's check it out!

I drive out to the place. It's this gorgeous, old fashioned cottage with a covered verandah (a VERANDAH!!!!!!) Just saying it slowly makes me happy! Try it! VERANDAH!

This very interesting-looking woman with wild big hair greeted me. She had this big black and white Main Coon cat named Pacino (after Al) who apparently has a place on the island. She had this lime green rope wound about a zillion times around her wrist because Pacino needed to roam but he needed to be kept tabs on as well I suppose.

The cabin is a one bedroom, her art is all over the walls, the dining room table is covered with chunky beaded bracelets that she's making for a show at some coffee shop. There's a woodburning stove and a huge expanse of lawn leading down to a big lake which was sparkly blinding.

I loved listening to her talk about Saltspring. The love hate relationship. She's a food writer who has had her third book, This Stove is Condemned published. She used to run a restaurant in Salt Lake City among many other careers and she's wanting to take off back to the U.S. for five months.

I would have loved to live there. It was perfect for me. As soon as I saw it I could see myself there doing the dishes, looking out the big window over the sink at the lake. Sitting, reading listening to the wood crackling in the wood burning stove. Having friends visit me there.

But alas, I told her I'd need to think about it. As it turns out for reasons I won't go into that are related to practical details, I ended up renting another one. But, it was with great sorrow that I had to decline.

But, that's okay, I like where I'm going also I might add equipped with a wood burning stove.

Her name is Jacqueline Landeen and it was a pleasure to meet her.

September 09, 2008

Boat. Pier. Straight.

A long time ago now someone said to me "When the boat reaches the pier, everything will go straight." I really like that expression.

Lots going on. But, as is customary when I have a lot going on, my written words disappear.

So, that's when Rumi comes in handy.

No Better Love
No better love than love with no object
No more satisfying work
than work with no purpose

If you could give up tricks and cleverness
that would be the cleverest trick.

September 05, 2008

The Call of Nature

Yesterday afternoon I was down at this beach/wharf called Walker's Hook on the North End of the island pictured above.

I had just got out of the car and this man was there. I said Hi. He said how beautiful it was. I said, Yes, it would be even more perfect if there was an outhouse. I have one he said. You have an outhouse? I said. No, I have a camper. I spy his camper in the distance with a kayak on top of it.

I look at him. I look at his camper. I envision myself peeing in that tiny space, smaller than an airplane washroom, and suddenly hearing the door slam and the camper moving, me trapped inside, my pants down as he drives away and I'm his prisoner.

But, I really had to go. It was worth the risk, even if he was from Maple Ridge. We know how many crazy people live there. But, when you really gotta go...

I managed to do the deed without being kidnapped and very thankful to him. We chatted. Turns out he's on the island because he's here to meet an internet date. Can you believe that?

Why do you want to do that? I ask. What do you mean? he says. I mean why bother? Why not just be alone? Well, because it would be nice to have someone to do stuff with, to go kayaking and camping with he says.

This is true I say and I can feel him looking me up and down thinking to himself that maybe I'd do. He tells me that it's hard to meet women his age who like to do what he does and who can keep up with him. I'm 68 you know. Wow. I say. You look pretty good for 68 and as soon as that comes out of my mouth I refrain from saying the other part which is I'm happy for you but that's about 20 years too old for me. Been there done that. Not on your life!

What are you going to do with her?, I ask. Who? Your internet date, I say. You ask a lot of questions he says. Ya. I used to be a reporter, it's just a bad habit.

Don't you think it's weird that you live in Vancouver and you have to come to this little island to go on an internet date?

She works for Robert Bateman he says. What does she do for him I ask? I don't know. I think she's probably his admin assistant. Interesting I say.

He tells me he's been married three times. Three times I say. Wow. Maybe you need to look at the pattern you keep repeating I say. Well, the first time was for 25 years he says. Uh huh, I say. But the other two were for two years each he says.

What happened? They were compulsive. Alcoholics. I didn't know that at first. I just got caught up in how excited they were to do things with me. That must have been the compulsive part I thought. "I could just throw a pack on them and we could go do things." It sounded like one of those horses you take on a ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon I thought to myself. I actually refrained from saying that.

Have you ever thought of getting therapy? I ask, because my friends all know that no conversation with me is complete without me adding that into it. Was one of your parents an alcoholic? I ask. My dad, he says. How did you know that?

Oh you know, the compulsion to re-enact the trauma I say matter-of-factly leaving him looking more intensely at me in a questioning sort of way. I just smile.

At this point, knowing everything I need to know about him, knowing I wouldn't get involved with him if he was the last man on earth unless the pre-nup included about 5years of intensive EMDR therapy for him, I shake his hand, wish him luck with his date and walk away feeling glad to be responsible for me and only me.

September 04, 2008

The Unheralded Creatives

Yesterday I met Mona Fertig owner of Mother Tongue Publishing Ltd.
We spent a couple of hours together. The tea she poured at the beginning of the meeting eventually led to white wine as time passed on the front porch of her Saltspring home.

In 1978 at the age of 23 she started the Vancouver Literary Storefront modeling it after a famous bookstore salon (Shakespeare & Co. in Paris) run by Sylvia Beach who published James Joyces' Ulysses.

The Vancouver Literary Storefront became a hub for writers, readers, poets and the burgeoning literati in BC, and would be the precursor to the BC Federation of Writers.

The black and white photos from that time in her upstairs office are a Who's Who of BC Poets. Here's Mona with Susan Musgrave and Marilyn Bowering. There's Margaret Atwood giving a reading. Phyllis Webb. Dorothy Livesay. Helen Potrebenko. bill bissett. Patrick Lane. Daphne Marlatt...More than 600 readings took place in four years at the centre which was located in Gastown.

Walking through the house she shares with her husband, Peter Hasse, is like an ode to BC poetic history. There are black and white photos, programs from poetry readings, chapbooks. She has now sold a lot of it to the UBC Archives.

At this point, she spoke of the reasons she decided to jump over from a private press to try trade publishing. She was tired of thinking projects were worthwhile only to be rejected by a publisher. I decided, why not just do it myself. What am I waiting for?

Since 1990 she has run a private press with her husband creating beautiful, hand-made chapbooks of established poets out of delicate paper; handbound editions beckon the reader to take the time to experience a gentler world and stop time for a while.

Her father, George Fertig, was a painter in the 1950s. And, like so many artists, he worked in anonymity his entire life. Just because they weren't known, she says, does that actually make their art any less? It's not invisible just because it's not known. And, her father's contemporaries and artist friends form a rich history that is lost when they die she said. Our understanding of a time in BC's artistic history is defined by the notariety of a few.

Her father's paintings grace the walls of her house and it is one of her father's contemporaries that she has chosen as the subject of the first art history books she'll publish. The late David Marshall was a sculptor whose work was recognized internationally but received little acknowledgement in Vancouver. It will be published in early December.

Her other project, RockSalt, is an Anthology of previously unpublished poems by emerging, mid-career and established BC poets. Working with a co-editor she put out a call, received 298 poems, culled the book to 108 poets and will publish it in October.

Personally this interview was very timely for me because of how she spoke of her father's work and her own work. About how she was tired of waiting for someone else to acknowledge the worth of ideas that she believed worthy; or, in her own words, at least as worthy as some book on the history of chain saws or something...(referring to all those books that do actually get published that often make you wonder why?)

It made me realize, yet again, that there are so many people, toiling away creatively, and only a handful that the larger population will come to know because of the elusive marketing machine or them being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people and attending writer event after writer event.

Here was a woman who was able at 23 years of age to spark the creation of a community for writers and poets in BC and yet she was having the same sort of dialogue with herself 30 years later, that I've been having with myself about my own writing. What am I waiting for? Who's approval really matters anyway?

And, she has reached the same conclusion. It's time to stop waiting for approval of one's creativity from an external source.

All that's really required is an undying commitment to the project by the creator herself.

September 03, 2008

Home is where the Heart is

The sun is streaming in the door this morning warming my back as I write this post.

I'm eating blackberries that I picked from out the front looking forward to today because I get to do two interviews for two features for an upcoming edition of Aqua magazine.

I'm going to interview a woman who has a huge Teddy Bear collection. That should be good for a hug or two (from the bears) :-) and then even more interesting to me, I get to meet a woman who started what was called the Vancouver Literary Storefront in the late 70s which could be likened to the precursor of the BC Federation of Writers.

She has run (with her husband) a small press called Mother Tongue Publishing that used to make beautiful, hand made chapbooks and now they are moving into trade publishing focusing on BC Art, BC Art History and Literature.

It should be really interesting to talk to her.

If you look closely at this photo, in the tree on the right hand side, it seems as if there is a little pink heart at the top of the tree caused by the reflection of the light. The heart looks like it has been placed there in the tree. I like that.

Saltspring has always captured my heart.

September 02, 2008

Country Cottage

It's a bit of a shock to go from Robson Street in Vancouver to a cottage on a Gulf Island. First of all, at night, it's really, really dark. It's so quiet. I'd forgotten what quiet actually sounds like.

You begin to wonder if you locked the door and have crazy thoughts about the island's one black bear which, by the way has just ravaged three ewes, coming through the door in the middle of the night because you forgot to lock it properly. It's big black nose, nosing up to yours besides the bed. City folk. We're so silly.

The only sound are golfers yelling "Fore" since the property is up against the back of a golf course. "Fore," you can hear and you can then pretend golfers are actually lumberjacks yelling "Timber" just before the tree falls.

There are deer and fawn that are on the grass under the golden plum trees in the morning, standing up on their hind legs trying to get at the low hanging fruit. On the first morning I'm here, Karin and I take our yogurt containers and go pick blackberries to have for breakfast before I drive her to the ferry.

When she's gone, you're grateful for a kitty for company even when kitty throws up breakfast. It's fun to talk to kitty. Kitty not feeling well today. Poor little kitty. You'd forgotten how much you loved having a kitty. This one's name is Tin Tin.

I went to do Karin's laundry since she doesn't have a car and it must be crazy trying to do your laundry here without a car. Little sticky notes hang off washers and dryers as if they are advent calendars. Out of order they say on more machines than not. You think Hot Sox on Denman is so clean and well maintained. Maybe, you think to yourself, the guy who owns that would want to buy this one and maintain it as well, since it's for sale and laundry in a small town is critical.

Murphy's law being what it is, when you're driving back from the water, you notice a light on your dash lighting up some shape that means nothing to you. When you look at the book it says, check to make sure you're not out of gas or electrical malfunction. How can those two things be related to the same light? One's an easy fix, the other's an absolute emergency. Take to Mazda dealership as soon as possible it says. Great. There is no Mazda dealership or any other dealership here.

All things to consider if moving truly becomes reality.