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July 26, 2010

The Pegster Tour

One of the most agreeable women in the world, The Pegster, came to visit. Yeaaa! It was so great to have her around for four days. If only she lived here with the whole fam. That's never going to happen. She left the fam to fend for themselves and two of the three took off to Tofino for a few days.
Friday morning we went to the favorite dock, Fernwood of course, for a little walk. Then we went to the sheep lady's place and a quick walk around at Blue Horse Gallery.

 We visited Sacred Mountain Lavendar where the Lavendar is at its peak and is even more purple than this picture, if that seems possible.
The Pegster was loving the aroma.
I had the best day ever at the market in terms of sales.
So did Tom and Linda whom she got to meet. 
She made this easy appetizer of bocconcini, basil and tomatoes with oil and balsamic that was tasty, tasty when we went to the James' for dinner.
Taste tests at Salt Spring Cheese and Salt Spring Vineyards.
She met Pauline who was looking so beautiful and youthful in her summer dress and we all had brekkie at the Treehouse then dropped in at Mahon Hall and Summer Art Craft.
Sometimes you see an artist on the island whose work is so spectacular you are astounded at the imagination and craftsmanship. That's what we thought when we saw Biyung Joo Suh's work. He is from Korea originally and he needs to get his work into a major metropolitan gallery in Santa Fe or New York. He is underpricing it here at $3,000 and $4,000 so whoever bought the four pieces that had sold got a fantastic treasure to enjoy for a lifetime at that price.

We went to Foxglove Farm Day

and enjoyed the music and the sunshine and ended the visit with a long lunch at Moby's deck and margaritas. ahhhh, summer!

July 20, 2010

The Messy Masterpieces In us All

Today I interviewed an artist who is originally from West Vancouver but now resides on the island and who I'll write a feature on for Aqua Magazine`s September/October issue.  I'm going to keep her name secret. But, one of my favorite things about being a reporter/writer is being able to drop in to people's lives. She lived in Europe for 10 years, was a textile designer and began with her husband their own graphic design studio out of Vancouver.

Her husband has been building their dream house for about 10 years. It's on 25 acres and the view from the top of the steep gravel driveway looks clear out across the ocean to Mount Baker, with the San Juans bumping up against the sky. Greenhouse. Gardens. Ponds. She describes him as the kind of guy who can take apart a Jaguar and when it`s completely put back together there`s only one screw that`s different than what he started with. Blessed be they!
You enter the house from the back and the door is a big horizontal slab that tilts to let you in. Her painting table just inside the door is chock full of the splatter of acrylic paints and it`s actually like being outside because of the house design. One side of the house is complete. There's a massive patio in the middle and then the other side where the bedrooms will be is just framed.

Farther up the hill is a little graphics studio with a security code for access. She still works as a graphic artist and it has only been in the past two years where the creative necessity has burst out of her that she's been able to work on paintings.

She mentioned taking a course from someone named Nicholas Wilton at Esalen. How fantastic would that be to go there for a little creative retreat?

The thing that I absolutely loved was her visual journals. There`s that little voyeur coming out of me again. Part interior design samples. Part nature quantified. Photos of bones, the way her sandpaper has been coloured after scraping the wood she paints on, shells, bones, a bag of chinese lantern plants tucked away until her muse, her intuition, weave them into one of her paintings.
She says she never knows what will come out. It's a very intuitive process and she describes herself a bit like an archaelogist, historian, unearthing artefacts from her memories, experiences, from the past and then having them arrive on the canvas with reoccurring shapes, colours, lines. She then sands and etches, scratching away at the surface until surprises from previous layers pop up to remind her of the next step in a painting that could have version upon version the way we, as individuals, as the days fold over us, transform from who we were to who we are in a process that stops only with mortality as the edge of our very own messy masterpiece.

July 14, 2010

Ugandan Choir on Salt Spring

Christ the King Church Choir from Uganda performed at the United Church here on the island tonight. They are from Kampala and according to the handout will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the choir's existence in August.

Coincidentally, I also received an e-mail today from a man I met at the market who bought two of my photos. I've been corresponding with him in an attempt to see if I might get a story published about him.

He's the Program Head of the Masters program in Peacebuilding and Security at Royal Roads University. In May he was in Uganda visiting some of his students who are doing practicums there. During a social evening he took them to the same restaurant that was bombed by Somalia insurgents with connections to Al Queda last Sunday.  His name is Ken Christie and he was interviewed on a Victoria radio statio about the recent terrorist attacks in Uganda that killed civilians watching the World Cup at a restaurant.

Listen to his interview if you're interested.

July 13, 2010

Salt Spring Summer

Visitors. Picnics. Hikes. Exploring. Friends visiting. Crowded markets. Art exhibits. Music.
It was so great to have company this weekend after a long drought. Gwen came to visit. She camped in the backyard. We had healthy dinners at the picnic table and took in a load of entertainment from one-man plays called The White dogs of Texas with Vaugh Fulford to Tom Hooper (Grapes of Wrath) playing solo at The Treehouse. She got to see The Market. Later Karin and Damon came for dinner. Paul came too. We then went back to The Treehouse and took in Stephanie Rhodes.

Karin had a show of her damascene inlay which she had done on farm implements with different varieties of  patterns ranging from Celtic to Islamic at The Point Gallery, a little barn on the South End. It was really nice to meet her parents. Damon and her joined us for dinner on the Saturday night.
Artefacts from The Point Gallery and Gwen's miniature shell collection.
My favorite spot on the island where the beach is the white shells of a midden, the water is clear enough to see your feet when you're standing in it, the Arbutus red bark is alight with the sun's rays, where crab shells land in trees when they're dropped by eagles and Mount Maxwell's distinctive top is a beacon.

July 07, 2010

Salt Spring's Paupers In Paradise

Someone came into the office today and said, "I've found a place to live. It's a garden shed. One step towards the first world," he said with a wry laugh.

But, in fact, he was happy. He even looked happier. "It's all relative," I thought realizing how wrong that thought was in this instance when it comes to people having some place to live that has electricity and a bathroom and a kitchen.

He had a place to put his stuff which, from what I've seen, consists of what he can put in a large knapsack and a sleeping bag.
"Is it a dirt floor?" I ask.
"No, it's raised," he said.
"Do you have a bed?"
"I have a sleeping bag," he said.
"Maybe I could get you a housewarming gift," I said, half seriously which might seem a bit cold and crass but I've been seeing this guy every day for almost 2 years in the office so I can talk to him like that and he gets my humour.

"What would you like? Do you have a flashlight?
"How about a padlock?" he said.

Just a few hours earlier the day started off with a different story.

"Did you know there's a castle on the island?" said the taxi driver with the Class 1 licence who has to leave soon because he isn't making enough money driving cab in spite of working 70 hour weeks.

"I just picked the guy up from Salt Spring Air. Drove him straight up Mount Belcher. He's from Ireland. A doctor. 10,000 square feet."

"Does it look like a castle?" I said.
"It's amazing. I was standing on the deck and you can see Mount Baker and the Lions and everything," he said.

"Does he live there all by himself?," I ask, not able to contain the disdain in my voice.
"What does he need 10,000 square feet for?"  The kitchen's 3,000 square feet he said and I wondered if that figure could possibly be accurate.

"Well, at least it was nice of him to let you  go inside and take a look," I said as a concessionary afterthought.

Someone really needs to organize a home and garden tour of the amazing homes and gardens on this island, sell tickets and make a lot of money to raise money for social housing. But, even if they did, the Islands Trust might not permit it and even they did permit it, they might still be discussing it a decade from now even though the housing crisis has been around for longer than a decade past. Islanders for self government are barking out the wrong message. It's not islanders for self government. It should be Islanders for the ethical treatment of people.

Even the social housing here costs way too much  if the figures I've heard are accurate. A two bedroom at Murakami Gardens (a 3-story apartment block) that's designated as social housing costs $845 per month. Who can afford that when they're broke and making $10 an hour?

When long-time resident Richard Murakami donated land in the middle of Ganges, he was being generous and his heart was in the right place, but from what I've heard, the outcome has been a bit of a failure. Murakami Gardens costs too much. There are too many problems because of the behaviours of the people who end up living there and in general, the concept has gone seriously sideways in reality.

I had someone come in and tell me a story a month or two ago.
She was out with a friend. He dropped her off down the block instead of in front of Murakami Gardens where she lives.
She said, What are you doing? Why aren't you dropping me off in front of my place?"
"I'm not going near 'the projects'" he said.

"The Projects? What are you talking about? Are you referring to where I live as 'the projects,' she said. "I couldn't believe he said that."

 "It's disgusting! I have a 14 year old daughter. There's people openly doing drugs. You hear people yelling. The cops come at least once a week."

"When my 14 year old daughter comes in the main door she stops and listens to see if anyone is in the hall and then she runs to our door. That's not what Richard Murakami had in mind. It's a disgrace that his idea and good intent with his name on it has turned into what it is. I have to get out of there. I can't stand it. They're not strict enough. They keep giving people 2nd and 3rd chances when they should just be out the door."

While people with houses are sitting in their marble countertopped kitchens sipping their Lattes and putting their sirloin on their gas grills, too many people are living in absolute squalor exhausted from surviving day by day, tired of moving in hopes of finding a decent landlord and a place that doesn't have excessive mould or mildew beaten down from the day job that pays somewhere between $8.00 and $15.00 per hour, typically part-time.

I'm sure there are people who think, too bad. It's costly to live in Paradise. And, that's true except at some point they'll be the only one's here. Then, who'll be left to serve them dinner at Hastings House, do the dishes, clean their houses, pick up their garbage, groom their precious pooches and dare I say it, wipe their 85-year-old tattooed asses when they forget why it is they accummulated all that stuff that wouldn't fit into the single box of a room they live in and can't find their way back to from the dining area?

July 06, 2010

Blanc de Noir and Lavendar

Sunday was Sacred Mountain Lavendar's annual festival. Unfortunately, it was under cloudy skies this year. In the south end on Musgrave road and really well organized, it's a treat to spend some time there among the heavenly mauve. I realized when I was there, watching some of the people arrive, all decked out in mauve for the event that I do not own a single piece of clothing that is mauve or purple. I'm saving that for when I get really old I guess and then I shall wear purple. Two little kids, a big sister and her little brother, were so well put together that they even had purple crocs on to match their outfit. Too cute! She had wings attached to her outfit. Maybe she was supposed to be a dragonfly.

It's impossible to go anywhere without seeing someone you know once you've lived here a while so I chatted with a few people and had the best lunch of panzanella (bread and tomato salad) that was chock full of herbs and olive oil and black olives and complemented with a fresh salad colourful with chopped petals of edible flowers. What a delectable summer meal indeed! 

(Sanchez is on guitar)
Afterwards, I drove over to the Salt Spring Vineyards which often has music on Friday and Sunday afternoons in the summer. Jose Sanchez and his Cuban band members accompanied by Jazz pianist Norris Clement. were playing. It was the most relaxing time I've had in a while. By then the sun had come out, the picnic tables were full, and the little round deck in front of the band had no seats left. A bit of a salsa line formed (wives of the band members) and sitting there, sipping a glass of their Blanc de Noir which they describe as a "salmon-colored summer sipper", looking out across the vineyards with large red roses accenting the grapevines seemed pretty heavenly. 

Myles showed up in what I have come to think of as his trademark wild shirts and it was nice just to relax and put all my cares aside.

So, the next time you're on island in the summer, drop in at one of the vineyards,  (Salt Spring, Garry Oaks, and Mistaken Identity) do a tasting, linger a while.

July 01, 2010

Black and White Simplicity

Today I went to the classic car show that was on as part of the Canada Day Festivities here on island. 

I wasn't really in the mood to take photos. I invited my friend Tom to come along and to get him out of the house for a bit. We wandered absentmindedly gazing at cadillacs, a pseudo Bat Mobile, Chevys, Mustangs, Austin Mini's, Pontiacs and a beautiful Aston Martin convertible sports car in British Racing Green with spoked wheels.

Then, we sat down by the dock and we talked and people watched. It's clear that when you're a parent, it doesn't matter how old your kids are, when they are in pain, you are in pain.  But, already there is healing. Thankfully.

I like the simplicity of this photo (above) and the way the shadows form three small light lines at the top suggesting motion.