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November 22, 2012

Love and Hate and Geography

I left Salt Spring a little more than a year ago. I packed up my stuff and left behind the panic that was rising inside me as another winter of being in a 450 sq. ft. cabin, alone, as the rain dropped ceaselessly, and the quiet closed in even more densely than the grey-white fog, descended.

I appreciated all that I'd learned from negotiating being on my own. But then again, I was always pretty good at that, I thought, until I reached the limit on Salt Spring, last year, at the end of October. I couldn't wait to get off the island. It wouldn't have mattered one bit to me if someone had screamed, "Don't let the ferry guardrail bump your bum on the way off" when I left more than ready.

If you live on an island, you probably have your own experience of how a confined geography can shape psychological space as well.

So, now, a little more than a year later, as I think about a friend who feels the same way and can't wait to leave an island that is her home, I can't help but think about how that's the way life is: cyclical. What attracts, repels, sometimes creeping up on us by surprise. And, when it strikes, somehow we're both surprised and have been expecting it.  If we listen to our feelings, regardless of how ugly they may be, we will eventually find our way back to what attracted us if we were truly in love in the first place.

I'm about to visit Salt Spring for a week-long visit next week, and now, I can't wait to return for a short visit.

I will visit Ruckle Park to make sure that I get the feelings right about that place as I'm about to write about it. That park is the reason I fell in love with the island so many years ago. I fell in love with the forest, the beach, the owls in the trees, the ewes and the turkeys, the light that bathes everything golden on an August morning, the auburn tree bark, the Ruckle Barn and heritage houses and the stillness of a full moon glimmering across the blue-black waves.

And, when I say that I think, well, isn't life just like that. The things we love, we can sometimes no longer bear. We do love our partner, really we do, but sometimes we can't bear them even one more minute, being in their presence, watching them chew their food.

We do love our job but we are sick to death of having to get up every morning and have to go to it and be around people that we have to because that's why they call it work, it comes with confines.

We do love our kids but sometimes, there's no way around it, they are a pain in the butt.

We do love our friends but sometimes we must keep them at arms-length for a while until the magic that first happened can, hopefully, be found again. Abracadabra.

And, when I find myself in that space, I always hear one of my favourite sayings: When the boat reaches the pier, everything will go straight.

Do you have a place that you consider your touchstone? If so, why?

September 17, 2012

C'mon Vancouver: A Zucchini shouldn't be your Best Friend

Poor Vancouver. I often find myself walking down the street, well, okay, it’s not Vancouver, it’s New Westminster. Same diff. The Lower Mainland all feels the same to me now. Cars. Malls. People in a hurry who aren’t smiling.  

Often, let’s just take a stab at it and say at least once a day, I’ll pass some poor waif who has lost his or her humanity. They've forgotten to acknowledge other human beings, even when one has passed within a shoulder’s length, even when I’m the only one on the sidewalk for blocks. Sometimes I say "Hi" to try and force them to acknowledge me but if they seem like a lost cause, like I can tell that someone or some thing snatched their soul a few years back, then I just bore my eyes into the side of their head and hope that some seed of collective consciousness might sense my animosity and awaken; come to their defense.

People can’t connect in Vancouver. SFU is hosting a forum called Alone Together: Connecting in the City.  The Vancouver Foundation has discovered through research that people are alone more than they want to be. But, c’mon people, take some responsibility. Don’t pretend it’s the “city”.  Are you saying the concrete buildings downtown are causing this state of mass anomie? What about Vancouverites taking responsibility for themselves, one isolated little lost E.T. lookalike at a time, and changing their own behaviour on a daily basis with just one stranger. I'm not saying acting like Steve Martin as Rupricht in that old movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but the occasional friendly acknowledgement surely isn't asking too much is it?

Here’s a brilliant idea. Wonder if anybody has tried it? Look at one person. Look them in the face. Smile. Say Hi. Take off your personal technological isolation device a.k.a. your iPod or whatever your lonely brain cells are currently wired on and just look at someone, up a bit if you're a certain type of guy, that's right, into their eyes. Try it just once a day. Their face isn’t a camera. It won’t break.

PS: I can’t be held accountable for my hostility towards the lonely city. I just returned from the Fall Fair on Salt Spring, which during the Fall Fair weekend wouldn't know isolation if it jumped out of a hay-filled stall and layed a big fat slobbering calf's tongue on the side of its cheek.

September 12, 2012

Walking Back to the Love of a Beautiful Place

Have you ever experienced the way the light dissects leaves, noticed how a yellow daisy turns slightly green at its petal tips, or how earth shades become stronger under sunlight, strong enough to overwhelm by a bittersweet purity that feels like your past, present and future in a single glance?

Yesterday was like that. In spite of the brilliant fall sunshine,  I'm hyper aware of the proximity of the rains. They're coming. And, that means no time now to spare inside, better get outside, on day's like yesterday, this couple, caught napping in solidarity would surely agree.

So I drove to Stanley Park. First time there, since I returned to the Lower Mainland 10 months ago and that surprised me.

The route I took to get there was unusual for me.  Over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, up the upper levels, down Capilano road hardly any traffic mid afternoon, no slowing down across the Lion's Gate Bridge which once across, a quick right hand exit deposits into lushness, stops quickly and delivers Prospect Point. A freighter slides below, glides so wide and tall, might as well be a toy boat taking up the whole bathtub; float planes trade places with ravens.

I parked the car near that pool. Is it Second or Third Beach? I should know that by now.  I set off on a walk that I've done countless times before, when I lived on the park's rim, and as I began to walk it didn't take long before I began to feel fantastic. I was smiling, really smiling, inside even, and I realized how few people really smile because I was looking at them, directly into their faces, even when they were avoiding my gaze, which was mostly. Feeling that good exaggerated the contrast of how I've been feeling lately and how hard my body has been trying to catch my attention; to communicate what's missing.

Here, I must drive for miles to find a place to wander where the trees and the grass and the flowers feel like company. Too much inside, alone, just me and my computer screen, without daily wandering in beauty, observing how the shadows dance across a tree trunk, the wind tickles the surface of the ocean or how waves bursts throwing up silent explosions of beaded gauntlets. No stopping to pick up a shell or a black rock on a beach, and really examining them before gently placing them back down again or absentmindedly tossing it, contented.

You and I are not the only living things capable of changing each other. Natural surroundings can do that as deeply; and the loss of that affects the heart every bit as much as any other lost love now gone.

That's some of what I was thinking yesterday as I walked.

August 14, 2012

Bogged Down by Blogs

Did you know I have another blog? Well, here it is: Gayle's other blog.  Feel free to comment in the way you almost never did on this one my dear little voyeuristic followers.

August 02, 2012

The Breakfast of Denial

The Breakfast of Denial
We've all heard of the breakfast of champions. I can't recall exactly if there is a definable menu for that but I'm assuming it's what Olympians eat. Now, because I'm further removed from being an Olympian than Satan is from Heaven, I've come up with my own version of a little something called The Breakfast of Denial.

If you're eating like this as well, I have news for you: You're old, you're getting older and you're worried. Nobody eats this stuff for breakfast unless they're worried. If you weren't worried, you'd be jumping out of bed barely able to contain your excitement to get at the Count Dracula Cocoa Puffs or whatever those chemical turds are called, washed down with a little Red Bull. 

Instead, what we have above is one of the super foods, Blueberries, to which you pour in some flax seeds (preferably already ground), a bunch of Psyllium husks, and some other seeds called Chia which, may or may not grow those weird little windowsill pets with grass hair if you were to bury these Chia seeds in some dirt. Throw in some cinnamon, yogurt, soy milk and you're good to go for hours.  

I'm using it as a way to trick myself into feeling full for hours, not that hunger and the reason I eat have had much of anything to do with each other in the past decade.

I also bought a pedometer the other day. I wanted to see how few steps I actually take in a day to freak myself out enough to take more.  I suddenly understand why my mentor in the Writer's Studio is a marathon runner. It's almost a necessity if you're going to write for a living, glued to your computer screen and your desk chair, like they're mere extensions of your body.

When I went to put a "tag" on this post, I tried to find the word "health" in all the tags I've ever put on a post and health was conspicuously missing. MMMMM?

July 29, 2012

Creating a new Website a bit like Home Renos

It's hard to create your own website. I guess it's a lot like writing your own bio, doing your own resume, writing your own will and obituary. It's hard to be objective, to get to the truth, to represent what really matters and to tell your own story. I suppose it has a lot in common with home reno's that way.

My new site under my own name was done by Brenda Johima who lives in the Comox Valley. She went above and beyond when it came to removing my url off GoDaddy servers, communicating with the new host, HostPapa, doing the SEO and all that stuff in the back end that I really didn't want to spend the time to learn, hence my decision to hire her.

It feels good to finally have a WordPress site although at this point I'm not even sure what the focus of the blog on the new site will be.  Now, I know this is going to sound strange coming from someone who writes, but I don't really like writing about writing. What new information could I possibly provide? It's probably some sort of creative writing blasphemy to say this but I actually dislike writing about writing almost as much as I usually dislike attending readings. 

If you've been to  a lot of readings in your youth, that's usually good. Done. Enough. I heard Margaret Atwood read at UBC in the mid 1980s. She was wearing a long black cape on a winter evening. I was surprised at her monotone voice. Gail Anderson Dargatz is a very amusing reader. I saw her at the Sechelt Writer's Festival a long time ago. Maeve Binchy was fantastic at the Vancouver International Writer's Festival as well, ages ago,where she was on stage with her husband. The most memorable reading I've heard to date was by Tomson Highway, reading from his book Kiss of the Fur Queen. He was so funny. Funny matters to me. Not exclusively, but it matters. I liked to be entertained by readings. Call me crazy.

For me, everything about writing is in the act, not in the talking about the act. And, when I put it like that, writing and sex have that in common.

If you'd like to follow the other blog, that might be good.  No promises.

July 16, 2012

The Way of Tea via Donna-san

Wouldn't it be fantastic if you could walk through a backyard gate and arrive in another country? Imagine if every backyard on your street was the entryway to an exotic land. Sunday, I was invited by my friend Donna-san to walk into a North Vancouver backyard to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Donna-san has been learning about "the way of tea" for 30 years.  Not something that too many Gaijan (white folks) can claim. A passion for the ritual and stubbornness has kept her motivated.
In this instance, Lynn Valley in North Vancouver became Kyoto in the backyard. There was no indication from the front of the house that the bamboo gate, complete with a sliding weight to keep it closed, lead into a peaceful, green Asian tranquility. There was a rock garden, Japanese lanterns, tatami rooms, a classic bamboo fountain and a private area with a thick wisteria trunk winding around its wooden sides. Benches surrounded a raised container full of hot coals in the middle and a silver tea pot hung from a wooden black fish, warmed by the coals.   

When we arrived,  two men, (one of them the owner's husband and the builder of the tea rooms in the garden and the house) were cooking Takoyaki. These were small round dumplings sizzling and solidifying into shape inside square black tins. When they deposited the exquisite dumplings onto our plates we sprinkled them with seaweed and squeezed a small circle of mayonnaise on top. Sushi, translucent pickled ginger slices, soy saunce and the beautiful avocado-coloured wasabi paste completed the condiments.
Before entering the house for our 2pm tea time, we deposited our shoes in the wooden box on the wall beside the back door and slipped on white socks. As Donna-san entered the tatami room inside the basement, she bowed in three areas of the room. We kneeled and were joined around the perimeters by four Japanese women, two older, two younger. A narrow scroll with Japanese lettering hung on the inner wall.  "There is something happy in every day." That was the loose translation of what the letters meant. A reminder that in every day there is something we can find that is new, novel, a good thing. Some days might just require better vision to see what that is, but there is always something.
We were there to partake in the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Donna-san advised there is thick tea (formal) and thin tea (less formal).  As we sat down, a sweet treat of red bean paste was brought to us to eat. You must eat prior to the tea and not during it.
A young woman in a beautiful pink kimono was preparing the tea. She gracefully used the bamboo scoop to transfer the matcha from a wooden container shaped as an apple (purchased by the host) into a ceramic bowl. Each step seemed a detailed dance of hands, precision and timing between the scoop, the curvy-pronged tea whisk, and the smooth wooden apple (pictured in the photo bottom right) with the vibrant green matcha powder inside. Afterwards, we learned our tea maker had completed the Boston Marathon this year. So refined and contained in her pink kimono, it was impossible for me to picture her in shorts and Nikes, sweating and puffing for 26 miles.
A wooden box, that had originally hung with a rope into a well, contained the water. She carefully slid the wooden slats off the top of the box and scooped out the water to place in the kama (left below) to boil it. The bubbling sound is very soothing and is supposed to resemble the wind moving through the trees in the garden.
After she ladled the water into the ceramic bowl, she  used the bamboo scoop to measure in the green matcha then whisk it in a gentle, deliberate circular motion. Notice below how one side is smooth and the other is not. "That's perfect," said Donna-san.
Donna-san bowed and placed her left hand under the bowl and her right hand against the side before taking three and a half sips of the tea, slurping the last sip quietly. Each bowl has a face she said. The face is to be examined. When she was done, she turned the bowl back and used her fingers to wipe the edges before placing it down on the tatami mat. Then it was my turn. And so it went.

Afterwards, we retreated to the garden for more sushi and another bowl of matcha. A few glistening raindrops shimmered on the green fronds surrounding the wooden pavilion in the garden.

Domo Arigatou Donna-san

July 11, 2012

Is all of Lotus Land Stoned All the Time?

When you live on Salt Spring Island, people who don't live there always joke about the same things: Hippies and pot smoking which proves nothing except that the branding of a place and the myths about it are really difficult to change even when they aren't really that accurate any more.

I'm not saying there aren't a lot of pot smokers, former hippies and wannabe hippies on Salt Spring but it's a really small part of the new Salt Spring reality which has more to do with wealth, young families, the retired, single moms, gay men, lesbian women and the most rugged individualists of all: single women. Then again, I"m a little biased. Yea to us!

But, New Westminster where I currently live, that's a whole other story. When I walk into my apartment which I chose to live in because it has really reasonable rent, a bigger space than I'd find in downtown Vancouver and a landlord who used to be a former prison guard (which means it's super quiet in here and I love that), it's like walking into a pot den. And so, now, it's not just second hand smoke but second hand pot smoke that comes wafting into my open windows daily. It also seeps through the walls of my bedroom and for the record, I hate it. I'm sick of it. If you're going to smoke pot every day, many times a day, I want you to smoke your joint in the park, not in your apartment which essentially means my apartment given the insidious nature of smoke's ability to seep through walls.

Last night, I was downtown in a hi-rise in the middle of the city and sure enough, that skunky smell began wafting into her apartment as well. "I thought it was funny at first," she said, "because it's so cliche." "But, now, it really bugs me because it's every single day." It's an epidemic! 

Ever since my new next door neighbor moved in, I wake up  feeling completely spaced out and today it dawned on me. I might be stoned off second hand pot smoke before I've even had my morning coffee. 

At least when I did live on Salt Spring, there was enough acreage that the pot smoke just wafted into the beautiful blue sky.
What about you? If you're not a pot smoker, do you find yourself inundated with pot in your own living room just because you live in a condo or an apartment in the Lower Mainland?  Does it bug you? 

July 05, 2012

A Day of Magical Thinking

I've just finished reading Joan Didion's book, The Year of Magical Thinking, which she wrote a few years after her husband died of a heart attack at the dinner table and her daughter was also experiencing horrendously serious health problems which she later died from as well. Given the serious topic of the book,  I found it odd that a rather insignificant line was the one that really resonated with me.

This one: "I was cleaning out a filing drawer lately and I came across a thick file labeled 'Planning'. The very fact that we made files labeled Planning suggested how little of it we did. We also had 'planning meetings' which consisted of sitting down with legal pads, stating the day's problem out loud and then with no further attempt to solve it, going out to lunch."  

I loved that. Maybe because I've never been very good at planning. It cuts into my dreaming. 

What Didion admitted to in that paragraph made me feel better because today was a very strange day. I found myself sitting in a courtyard with a notepad, trying to plan without much headway, and I'd been doing that only an hour or so before I read that line in her book. Maybe that's why it stuck with me. It seemed so serendipitous. 

I felt like I was in a dream state all day long and it began in the morning when I awoke with a really uneasy start, like I'd been prematurely yanked away from something I really didn't want to leave. Usually, I don't even remember my dreams. Each night it's as if I die into the blackness of sleep and then I have always been lucky enough to wake up again in the morning. 

But, today was different. I woke up with a start right in the middle of a dream where I was in a very crowded Museum or Art Gallery in a foreign country where everyone was speaking French. It seemed as if I was in Paris and I was in a panic. I was in the corridor of a very lavish gallery and I was feeling claustrophobic and my purse was missing. I was trying to find my purse and I was going from room to room, with people all around in animated conversation and the impact of how it made me feel was so strong that it stayed with me all day, made me feel uneasy, until I was able to come back into my body by this evening and now, once again, it's time to go to bed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it just made me feel better that even Joan Didion had days, even when things were good before 2003, when no amount of planning would have changed anything, including the deaths of her husband and daughter.

June 21, 2012

Non fiction writer or sociopathic voyeur? Depends!

My participation in The Writer's Studio is progressing along nicely  (which is why the Blog is so lacking) and now we are undergoing the exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience of standing up and reading our work in public. First, in front of the class, but also at local cafes. I'm thankful that I'm not a poet. Poetry just seems so over the top baring your soul intimate and courageous to me.  I've written poetry and it just seems too close to the flesh to share, out loud, with others regardless of its focus.

So far, I have given three readings. One in front of the Writer's Studio co-hort and mentors. One at the Montmartre on Main Street and the third at Rhizome Cafe on E. Broadway.

Standing up and reading in front of people, especially when you are in the non fiction group, can be a little bit tricky. You may be writing about things that have happened in your life, which, typically also include other people. Your story can be their story. Sure, you can change their names and make up locations  but is that enough? You have to decide as a non fiction writer, especially if you tread into memoir writing, just how far you are willing to go in revealing the truth. Some people won't like that your truth happens to include them.They might not like the way you describe them or the kind of insights you have about yourself or them, in the writing.  Wisely, the SFU Writer's Studio program includes sessions with lawyers as workshop guests who speak about libel, slander and defamation.

I've always felt pretty strongly that what I write is my story. If you don't like what I write, you're more than welcome to write your own story, from your own perspective.  If you happen to be in  my story, as in my life, then depending on what went down, it's either "lucky you", or "oops". I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what other people will think about what I've written because for me it's more about how to tell the story, although I do admit that when you tread into memoir, it is easy to wonder if you're becoming become a sociopathic voyeur who's crazy enough to take a closer look at aspects of your life you wished you'd never seen up close and personal the first time.

An artist once said to me that when she goes to life drawing classes, she doesn't notice the whole naked body up there as attached to a person, she is focused on the shapes and the forms and how to interpret and get those down on paper. At first I didn't believe her. You have a naked guy right there in front of you and you're telling me you don't notice whether he has a nice round butt or a kind of oblong, weirdly shaped one? I didn't believe her. Now I do. Or, at least her perspective is more plausible to me.

To date, I've read two pretty innocuous pieces. One was what it was like to join a beginner band on Salt Spring and it had a lot of humour in it, the other was about a chef there, and the third, not so innocuous, was about the last time I visited Mac, the week before he committed suicide a long time ago now.

What I discovered is that when you go back and write about something that happened a long time ago and it took an emotional toll on you, you are able to objectify the experience in a way that almost makes it seem like you're telling a scene from a movie that has nothing to do with you. That's a bit of an exaggeration but it's so much easier to write about things once time has passed.  You don't forget that you were there, but it's much easier to feel like you are just sitting on a train, watching the events unfold and are able to tell them in a way that can draw a reader/listener into the experience. That's what happened, it would seem from the feedback, when I read that piece about my last visit.

I could feel the silence even as I read and when you can feel the silence, not just hear it, you know that your writing is doing something to capture the audience.

It is such an incredible privilege to stand up in front of a room even if just for 5 or 10 minutes with your creative work being the center of attention and you being the conduit. Most people will never be able to have that experience and it is transformative in ways that I can feel brewing. I can feel it and it has something to do with confidence in what I'm doing, a sense that it's exactly what I have always been meant to be doing and that, even though it makes me no money, it matters more than anything else I could be doing.

Reading your work to others suddenly makes your creativity a communal experience, instills value and has the ability to impact others' thoughts and feelings,  not just something you do alone in front of your computer having to deal with everyone wondering what the hell you're doing anyway.

I like it! Smile. Smile.

May 30, 2012

You Have My Permission

We were speaking at my writing group last night about whether the time was right to begin sending work "out" to a literary journal, to send a query or to write a book.

Go ahead and substitute whatever you are thinking about that matters to you that is giving you anxiety and that you are waiting for something external to you to fix, approve, compliment, orchestrate or accept.

Someone else pointed out that you can get advice and feedback from others who are knowledgeable to receive an informed opinion and that makes sense. But, they will not ultimately know when you are ready to do anything better than you will know that yourself. There is no Pick-Up Here window with a wizard handing out permission slips.

Does it make sense to wait for others to say, Yes, grasshopper, you are now ready.  Does it make sense to give them your power?

Nobody is going to give you permission. It has taken me a long time to realize this. I still often forget.

 If you want to do something then you can just choose to do it.  You have the freedom to make that choice regardless of how many resistances you put forth. You may find yourself saying things that aren't absolutely relevant.

I have no money. I have too much work. I'm afraid.  I want to look important. I don't want to look stupid. If I do that I might become a stranger to myself. If I accept that I may have to change. I may lose friends. I may have to step out of my comfort zone.

What are you not giving yourself permission to do or be? Is it conscious? Are you incapable of standing alone and recognizing your own value without the ego strokes you receive from your family, your friends, your employer, you husband, your wife? Would you think you still mattered if all that was stripped away?

Do you only have a relationship with yourself as seen through others' eyes or are you capable of standing alone and accepting the truth about who you are inside?

Why are you waiting for permission from someone or some thing external to act upon what your internal self already knows?

What are you, probably unconsciously, waiting for someone else to give you permission to be or do?

May 20, 2012

Artists in our Midst

Thanks to Colleen's suggestion, I took in some of the Artists in our Midst festival today. It's always interesting to meet artists and chat, not to mention getting the voyeuristic groove on for a peek into other people's west side houses. Yes, they had granite counter tops but alas the gnome doors, cob house crookedness and soulfulness which is so often the byproduct of eccentricity were missing. Pity!

We started off at The Lion's Den on Fraser near Kingsway for breakfast with a very boisterous restaurateur.
"Good Evening Ladies. Got a reservation?"
Well, good, take a seat, any seat.
It was 11 am.
I'll have whatever he's smoking.

He insisted on yelling across the tiny space to tell us how the place got its name. On a ledge up high, there's a full-sized stuffed lion looking as if it's wondering where to get its next prey.  I expected the dread locked-sporting owner to have a story about an African safari.  It came direct from a wildlife park in Cambridge, Ontario.
"My friend brought it in one day and I figured out my branding."
The place has survived for 12 years. Check it out if you haven't already.

Next we stopped into the garage/studio of Oscar Valero Saez visiting for a year from Spain.   His card says architecture and visual arts.  His lithographs are so unique and detailed.We chatted for a while and I told him about the Architectural Institute of BC which I'm convinced would be the perfect place for him to hold an exhibition because they have a great little space that's perfect for exhibits off their reception on the main floor. Then, he told us about Agnes Martin and he wondered why Canadians seem not to have heard about her. How could this be he wondered. We had to explain to him that a lack of notoriety at home was typical.
"If you're not a hockey player, you're nothin."
We were doing what we could to be good cultural ambassadors. (Sarcasm).

We also met Janet Strayer. Not only did I like her art but as a human being she is very warm and engaged which, if you're going to interact with the unwashed masses, comes in handy.

It was a decent choice of entertainment on this rainy, rainy day in May. I wonder what you got up to?

April 19, 2012

Selling Gurjinder Basran`s Book One Book at a Time

My coffee table (with no room for coffee)

I`m loathe to admit this but yesterday I was in Wal-Mart in Surrey. What’s next? Will you be moving into a trailer park soon, you ask?  I was buying printer paper and office-related stuff and came upon a long aisle of books. 

I was standing there staring at all the books when a young mother with a toddler asked me if I’d read anything good lately. “Well,” I said, staring at all the romance and thrillers, “not really any of these.” And, just as I was saying that the name on a book cover caught my attention:  Gurjinder Basran.  She wrote, Everything Was Good-Bye, winner of the Ethel Wilson Prize almost a year ago. She’s a 2006 grad from SFU Writers Studio, giving all those of us who have come after something to aspire to.

 “I’ve heard this is pretty good,” I said to the young mom.  “I read it and I liked it but it just depends on your taste and what you’re looking for.” “It’s written by someone who lives right here in Surrey.” As I said that  I didn’t even know if that part was actually true.  “It’s about this modern Punjabi woman struggling between two cultures”  and right then I made a mental note to myself to make sure I never market my own books, should I ever write one. But, for whatever reason my description was enough. She said she thought she’d like something like that and she perused the description on the back. I didn’t expect her to be so easily convinced but I was pleased that she went for it.

So, Gurjinder Basran, you can thank me personally for selling one of your books, in  Wal-Mart, in Surrey.

It’s been a week of really great TWS-related events. TimothyTaylor, most known for his novel, Stanley Park, delivered a jam-packed, informative and entertaining lecture last Saturday at our class. I was so impressed that I decided that I had to buy his latest book, The Blue Light Project, rather than just wait for the long line of holds that would surely be in place at the library.

Then, Steven Galloway who wrote The Cellist of Sarajevo, which has sold 1 million copies worldwide,  came by to read to our class from a new book he’s working on focused on magicians and Houdini.  He’s in the middle of writing it but he sat in front of our small group and read about 10 to 15 minutes of what he’s been working on. He also kept the night interesting with entertaining insights about book publishing, his comical views of touring in foreign countries when the only thing you recognize about your book is your name on the cover and of course, his writing process.  Afterwards, we all went to Steamworks for a drink.  Tonight, I’m off to Vancouver Public Library for the Arthur Ellis Crime Writers Awards and discussion about Canadian crime writing.  

And, just in case you think I’m just sitting around listening to other real writers who have made it big and not doing any writing myself, I would like to state, for the record, that this has been an extremely productive week for me. I continue to have Salt Spring characters and events as a theme and something new seems to be arising as well from my two previous vacations in New Mexico as the backdrop for the beginnings of a murder mystery. 

It`s all enough to keep me happy for, shall we say, an hour or two.

April 10, 2012

The Places You'll Go, The People You'll Meet

This is for all the people who look at people who travel alone, forlornly, and utter heartfelt words of pity such as, "You're so courageous. I could never do that."  Four words back at you. It's Hawaii, not Haiti.

Of course the best thing about travelling alone is the people you meet, that you inevitably would not meet if you were travelling with a friend or a partner because being alone, depending on who you are, seems to equal more approachable. Those of  us on the fringes, the Raggedy Ann dolls, we're just ripe for all sorts of interpersonal communiques. Especially in America. Because, no matter what you think of Americans, there's no denying that they are a friendly bunch.

Let's start at the end
I arrived in Honolulu at 7:45 pm to catch a connecting flight back to Vancouver on the way home. But, I had three hours to kill. And, I was hungry. Didn't want a Starbucks scone. Hold the pizza. There's the Kona Brewing Company. Sat down at the bar. By this time it was about 9 pm. My flight was leaving at 10:30. Only one other guy was seated at the bar. He was looking at something very academic. "I bet your a professor," I said. He smiled back at me. "Nope. but, you're close. This did come from a professor." Okay. he was busy and he wasn't going to prove very interesting. Next.

Surfing vicariously with Alvin and Mike 
I ordered a beer. For some reason there was no prices next to them. I'm in America, beer is cheap. How much could it be? I took a sip and the next time the waitress passed, given that I only had $22 left, I said, How much is this beer anyway?  $10.75 she said matter of factly. I didn't say a thing. I thought maybe I'd misheard. A few minutes passed and I asked Alvin, the friendly Hawaiian bartender,  "Is this beer really $10.75? Yup, he said. They just released it a few days ago, he said, as if it were a new gold coin. Well, okay,  cheers, here's to a liquid dinner of Koko Brown. Then, a young guy sat down next to me. Long hair. Pleasant face. Dressed in brown surfing shorts and a T-shirt. Happy, happy energy.

I can't even recall what started us off. I think he may have asked me where I was going. "Back to rainy Vancouver," I said. He was a teacher. Honolulu. Loved his job.  Headed to Boston to visit his family. We talked about what he liked about teaching. The kids of course, he said. I like fourteen year olds. "You look 18," I said.  I asked him if he surfed. Seemed like a natural question given how he was dressed and then, I reached into the back of my mind to figure out what I could possibly dredge up that would fuel a conversation about surfing and I got it.

I recalled the article that Brian, my mentor in the Writer's Studio had written about surfing in a little town in Ireland. I proceeded to share this information and we were off. Next thing you know, Alvin, Hawaiian bartender operating at warp speed, gets in on the conversation. "I started surfing again," he said. "I took it back up in 2009." And that was that. They were talking about surfing etiquette on the North Shore. How the regulars treat those tourists who think they'll just get in their way. Sometimes comes to fistfights. It could mean their life, said Mike, young happy teacher guy. If you get in their way, you could kill them or vice versa. "I just hang out and wait," he said.  "I watch. I respect them and pretty soon, if I do that long enough, they say, Hey, you why don't you give it a shot. And, that's how it works for me." It was a tiny slice of life that had I been at home, on the Skytrain, I never would have heard about. He was cool. We had fun. I didn't want to leave. Should have taken his picture. For you. Blog readers.

Pack up and Move to Hawaii
In Kona the first night. Walking out of ABC store (just love that they sell beer in a corner store) and this guy looks at me. I smile back at him. This rarely happens at home. Me smiling at random guys and them talking to me. It's Vancouver. He says something. I don't know what. I say something back. We chat a bit.Asks me for a drink. I decline but say, "I'm headed to Volcano and Hilo. Give me your phone number and I'll call you when I come back." So I did, and meeting Bill made the trip a lot better because one of the things that does suck about travelling alone is the evening.  We went out, we ate, we went to the beach, we explored. He'd just moved there a few days earlier from New York State.

Rabbit in the Moon Dance Group
In search of the Wood Valley Buddhist Retreat Centre above the town of Pahala. Up a road that climbs past beautiful grassland with grazing cattle and horses and at the very end, a left onto a narrow dirt road that climbs a bit higher and soon the orange, blue, yellow of the temple and  prayer flags.A bunch of people in purple T-shirts are laughing and talking.
I made my way into the temple but there really wasn't all that much to see so I turn around to leave and a man shouts out to me, "Hey, we're just about to have lunch, why don't you join us?" I smile. "Thank you. That's okay. I have some salad in the car." "Really," he says. "Don't be shy. We've got enough to feed an army." Well, with that, it's clear that it would be incredibly rude to decline. I join the queue on a home-made Japanese feast and I hear about the ritual of Bon Dance.  They are the Rabbit in the Moon Dance Club from Hilo. I meet Gail, a ranger who works at Hawaii Volcanoes National park and lives in Volcano, just down from the Volcano Winery where I'd done a taste testing earlier in the day. Leonard, the friendly guy who invited me, leads the group, sings and works for the Department of Labour. It was the highlight of my day.

Sisters on the Fairwinds II
And sisters Su and Chris from Denver and Chicago. We had a fun time on the Fairwinds II snorkeling, sharing the beautiful day and a lot of laughs as well.

The Friendly Kona Seaside
Then there was the front desk staff at the Kona Seaside where I stayed. In particular, one young woman whose beautiful name I wrote on a piece of paper and have now lost but I think was Ku'ulei. She was so friendly to me because to access free wireless you have to sit in the lobby and sitting in a hotel lobby in Hawaii watching everything is actually pretty entertaining.

Ukeleles and Dovetails
And high above Kona in a old Hawaiian village called Holualoa, I walked into the shop of Sam Rosen, ukulele maker and master. He pointed me in the direction of Renee Fukumoto and her beautiful shop called Dovetail where her partner Ben made wooden furniture. I was able to alert her to some high end wood artists in Canada such as Brent Comber and Peter Pierobon whose work she immediately fell in love with and was eager to share with Ben.

Lovely to meet every one of you. Mahalo~

March 27, 2012

WiFi, Travel, Staying Connected and Da Plane

I'm on a plane right now, typing this, using my laptop and I can't help but think about all those years ago when the first time I ever travelled alone, at 19, flying all the way to Finland for 3 months and how I almost never connected with my family during that entire time. I didn't call them and they didn't call me - except for maybe one time. Now, that was partly because of the way they were and partly because I was clued out about how to call internationally. I know, I know, dare I admit that now.

At that time,  I was so naive that when they offered me a drink on the plane, I declined until I realized they didn't actually cost anything. I can see myself so clearly. Oh me.

No Twitter. No Facebook. No E-mail. Thinking back to that time,  I can hardly believe it. It was like being relegated to some deserted island or something. Most 19 year olds aren't even entirely disconnected from their parents for more than an entire day these days, let alone 3 months. And, yes, I know this sounds like, when I was young, we used to walk 7 miles to school and have to milk the cows before we left.

Now, you must forgive me because, I don't often travel, especially in the last 3 years and haven't been on a plane since 2007 when i returned from New Mexico so I'm sure to be observing things that many of you just take for granted but here are just a few things I've noticed or thought so far:

1. Just because you work for Customs, is it not possible to be friendly? I mean, does one preclude the other? I'm not sure why really.
2. Don't ask me why I was thinking this but you don't usually see a pilot or groups of pilots walking around looking depressed. In those uniforms and those hats, they just exude confidence don't they? We like to think there's a correlation between mood ad being present right?
3. Watching the ground crews with their vests, I just couldn't help but think, are they like the fighter pilot boys of the ground. I saw a group of them heading out on the tarmac, as if they were just arriving at work, looking like a bunch of miners about to start their shift and I thought to myself, now that's a work environment and a group I just have no clue about. I'm curious. What do they talk about when the day is done? I'd like to know that, just out of curiosity.
4. I'm heading back to the big island of Hawaii (Kona and Hilo) and all the little hang loose hippie points in between and I'm wondering, having experienced what it's like to live on a little island myself now, how I might see things differently there. I went in 2005 and I specifically felt compelled to return for reasons I'm not totally clear about except to see a few of the places I wanted to see again, maybe even write something about them on my return.
Anyway, that's it for now. I'll keep this short. As predicted, Turbulence beginning over Northern California.\

March 14, 2012

Pull Up a Chair and Really Listen

Outside a restaurant in Steveston, BC

How many times have you left a conversation wondering, what exactly did she mean by that? Is what I think he meant, really what he meant or am I completely misinterpreting that? Am I projecting? It's so easy to be so passive, to never think critically and like a sponge move through your days, as if you're watching TV, without really knowing if what you thought you understood is what someone else was actually trying to communicate or if it went right over your head (maybe like this blog post is doing right now for you?) 

And, that brings me to the small-group workshops that are a part of the SFU Writer's Studio. In my group - every second Tuesday, 10 of us gather around a table in a very small room downtown. When it's our turn for one of our pieces to be work-shopped, we receive the luxury of receiving both verbal feedback and then, in writing, from 9 other people to take home and keep. A first draft of creativity, handed back with our fellow classmates' impressions, opinions, feedback, corrections and philosophical musings. It's quite a luxury.  

And, then you take those home and put them in a drawer and pull them out a few weeks later after you've mulled over how you want to change what you've written or you want to completely revise. You could even choose to go back to the person and ask them for a more thorough explanation of their comments if you want really want to.

Your assumptions get reflected back to you. You get to see if you're being gender biased or if because of your age you're making statements that nobody under 30 would understand.  You get to see how people are reacting to your writing. You get to see how a character or a story that you feel you've explained completely is confusing your readers or leaving them wanting a lot more. Too many colloquialisms? You actually end up learning quite a bit about yourself. You get glimpses into where you might be stuck, your natural tendencies in approaching how you tell your stories and how you might consider challenging or experimenting with those. You get to see where your fellow writers unanimously agree or disagree and you have to go inside, use your intuition, for where the comments are at direct odds. You learn what's weak and what's strong and whether you're leaving them confused or making them think or getting across your message in exactly the way you intended to.

When we go around the table and the person giving feedback has their 5 minutes to speak, it's as if they hold the talking stick. Nobody else gets to interrupt or speak. We're all listening. 

Where else in our world do you get to be in a group of  people, listen, and have all the information that's streaming out of each one of them, as they take their turns, be directed towards a creation that you've pulled out of your imagination or your personal history? 

Better than group therapy!

February 17, 2012

Baby Steps in the Big City

"Well, that’s a new technique," he said after I showed him my poor knee. "Haven’t heard that one before. So, you hurled yourself touchdown-style in the middle of a crosswalk in downtown Vancouver hoping, maybe, that prince charming might come to your rescue, on Valentine’s Day, no less. A bit desperate don't ya think?"

Some women get chocolates. Some get roses. Some get, well, you know, but me, I prefer to lay, splayed on concrete, shocked and dazed.

I wasn’t looking for sympathy. I just tripped; one of those spectacular, I think I can recover falls that has you moving even faster, almost parallel to the sidewalk, in a hopeless attempt at recovery. It would have been better if I’d just let go and fallen down, immediately.  

I was wearing the new boots I’d bought with the 3 inch wedge. They weren't purple but they were suede.  And, just as one must acclimatize to rural living  and learning how to dress down when, say, you move to Salt Spring, when you move back to the city you have to learn how to ramp it back up. That means you have to trade hiking boots and comfortable, flat black shoes or flip flops for something with heels.  
When it comes to jobs, some people focus on salary, benefits, vacation but one of my greatest priorities seems to have become, Can I dress in a way that lets me still feel like me? Can I wear jeans?

I started a month-long job thanks to "all employment eminates from Karen McD" and I was rushing, on Valentine’s Day, to the bank to deposit what seemed like pretty easy money. Then, at the corner of Howe and Pender, the rubber on the bottom of my boot got momentarily stuck and set in motion a maneuvering toward my spectacular spill.  If the traffic light hadn’t been in my favour, I might have been run right over or broken my nose on the side of a passing BMW.

It always happens so fast. One minute you’re upright, the next you’re sprawled almost licking the pavement, the world a blur of sneakers, boots and legs moving dreamlike past your head. 

"Are you okay?"  I heard a voice from above. 

I didn't even answer. Moving not yet possible. Arms reached down to help me up. Some nice young guy. I limped back to the sidewalk with his help, more shocked than embarrassed, keenly aware that I would have been laughing hysterically had I witnessed myself as the passengers in the cars a few feet away waiting at the light on this one-way street surely had. 

I leaned up against the side of the building housing INGDirect. Just stood there for a while, while dizziness rushed slowly into my head.  I touched my knee. Gauged the chance of passing out. Clutched my wallet and looked, well,  probably very strange, to those who hadn’t seen what had just transpired.  Standing there, just staring, leaning against the bank, I’m sure I looked as if I might have amnesia or dementia, confused about which direction to head next. Maybe she forgot where her office was I could hear their thoughts.

"Somebody is sure to have it on video," he said as he took another swig of his beer.  "You should put a sign up on one of the poles near there." It could just say, Spectacular fall happened here on Valentines Day. Anybody catch it on your cell? Post on Facebook. Tag me.”  

"Very funny," I said, snidely. 

An even bigger surprise? i didn't break anything or skin my chin. So, these do have a purpose, I thought, looking down at my chest. Thank god for cushioning. 

The only damage to my right knee, scraped and bloody.  A small price to pay, I suppose, in exchange for learning how to get up early again, get out and get dressed to pretend you fit - yes you do - in the big city. 

PS: That is not me, above! :-)

February 02, 2012

Ode to the Writing Compulsion

There is a lot of writing to sort out these days. There's the SFU Writer's Studio writing which is really THE writing that matters to me right now, and will for at least the next year.

Then there are the ideas and queries to write that are a constant swirl in my head, driving me to distraction, to the point that I have started Mindmapping out the ideas and which magazines might make sense to target in a never ending attempt to make some money from freelance writing.

Then, there's this Blog which, isn't important, just my reprieve and my indulgence as you may have noticed.

Oh, and then there's everything else: Life.
I feel that I should write a Dear John letter to my friends for the year ahead because nothing is more important to me this year than trying to finish some writing that I want to do (and complete).  So, I forgive you for not understanding because I know some of you are wondering why I don't just get a job and be happy. Have money. Plan vacations. Get back on track after a departure that began with Salt Spring and seems to have turned a mid-life detour into a round the world excursion that's created a full-blown 9-5 refugee.

How can I explain? I can't really. But I'll put it this way. Writing is a bit like the state that you enter right before you fall asleep and right before you wake up. Even though, to an outsider, you may look like you're there, you're not. You're still back on the last paragraph of the thing you wrote. You're still wondering if in that query letter you should have put the first sentence of the second paragraph as the lead sentence or if the first sentence is alright afterall. So, if I look at you blankly when you've just asked a question or I say Yes and it makes no sense as the answer to your question, it may be because I'm not actually with you yet. I'm still with me. In my head. Again.

Am I having the kind of time we've all had at 17 about to scare the hell out of ourselves on the roller coaster at the PNE, screaming like a banshee (whatever those are) right before the 95 year old box on wheels heads down the rickety tracks full speed ahead. Wheeeeeee! No.
Am I experiencing the pleasure of being 20-something again, necking on the rocks at Lighthouse park with a cute boy and the sun warming everything on a brilliant August day? Not even close. I'm not having that kind of time and at the same time, I don't want to be anywhere else. Where I am feels where I'm supposed to be. So, please forgive me. Show some mercy.

Think of it this way. In the same way I have been known to look at each one of you at some point in time and wondered how you could put up with so much, asking myself like a detective trying to solve some British Murder Mystery why the hell you don't just stop, I'm asking you to recognize that for me, my compulsion, my vocation, is my writing; a pre-destined friend, the kind who chose me.

So, I'm asking you to indulge me in the same way I begrudgingly accept those things I see in your own lives that make me crazy and then maybe you'll  understand.  It's just me, at 50, knowing it's now or never to do what has mattered forever for reasons I've never really understood ever since I was born.

So, thanks. In advance. For your patience. Or not.

January 23, 2012

A Lawyer, the Beaver Lake Cree and the Tar Sands

I spent the weekend pretty much glued to my computer finishing a story I was working on for Canadian Lawyer Magazine. 

The first time I met this lawyer in person, I was at the Fall Fair last September with my camera in hand. I just happened to run into him and his wife. I had been doing some Tweeting and Facebook updates for the Harbour House Hotel which they just happen to own. 

When I spotted Jack Woodward and his wife Glenda at the Fall Fair, introduced myself, and asked if I could take his photo (for the hotel's FaceBook page) his reaction has to be one of the best reactions I've ever received from someone I had never met before.  He said in a really excited voice, Are you Gayle Mavor? He's about 6'6 inches tall and he proceeded to give me this huge bear hug. "I love you," he said referring not to me of course but to my then Twitter feeds on behalf of the hotel. He obviously liked the humour in them at that time.

His wife was standing right there and his greeting just seemed so spontaneous and open and child-like. Definitely not what you'd expect from a lawyer. I honestly can't recall a warmer greeting from someone I'd never met and really didn't know. I knew he was a lawyer in Victoria. He had something to do with Aboriginal Law. I knew he owned the hotel. That's it. 

After that meeting, sometimes I'd see him the hotel restaurant. Once I saw him out back in the beautiful organic garden that he and his wife were committed to developing. I saw him in his beekeeping suit, like a big Sasquatch all in crinkly white, delicately moving the bee boxes around  at the very back of the Harbour House organic garden which I would spend quite a bit of time wandering through taking photos for Facebook.

Then, just this past December he received a Queen's Counsel award which is mainly an honourary designation but only 7% of lawyers will ever receive that designation. Lightbulb went on. I thought, Hey, I could make some cash off of that lawyer. Now that's a switch!  I could pitch a story to Canadian Lawyer Magazine.  So I did on January 2. On January 3, I heard back from the editor. Yes. My timing was lucky. She was needing a profile for February. 

So, I began to research Jack's background and much to my surprise, it turns out, he's not just another lawyer,he's one of the founding fathers of aboriginal law in Canada. He started practicing aboriginal law in the late 1970s after graduating from the inaugural law class at the University of Victoria when aboriginal law was considered a fringe practice. He was involved in entrenching aboriginal rights into the Canaadian constitution. He had a hand in the Meares Island 1985 Injunction against logging that still stands. He's represented hundreds of cases using Constitutionally-entrench Treaty rights as arguments against environment and habitat destruction.  He's now using those rights to try and fight against Tar Sands expansion on behalf of a small Cree nation in Alberta called The Beaver Lake Cree Nation.  

And, as I learned more about him and what he's done and how he's using historical treaty rights that the Government of Canada and Alberta are disrespecting by their allowance of total exploitation of lands where the Cree traded thousands of kilometres of land and in return they were to receive $5.00 per head every year (an easy promise to keep, which has been kept) and more importantly the continued opportunity to meaningfully hunt and fish on their land via Treaty 6 which, because of the degradation of the land as a result of the Tar Sands, is no longer possible.
So, I'm writing this blog post, not about Jack Woodward really, but about the fact that if you're like me, before I interviewed him, I'd hear the word Tar Sands and it meant so little. It would be like images of sand dunes would appear in my head. It was Alberta's problem. Bad Albertans! That's how ignorant I was. But, then, I read what I read and I watched this video. And now, I'm totally shocked at my ignorance and I have been consumed by this issue and wondering what we are going to do as Canadians.

So, when you make the time, you must watch these two videos. One is Jack lecturing in a very clear, interesting and understandable manner about the aboriginal rights related to the Tar Sands and the other is a video called The Tipping Point that is 91 minutes long. 
They are both excellent and you must watch them. It's your duty as a Canadian to be informed about how we're destroying the planet, adding to climate change in a way that is completely irresponsible. Okay. Got that? Education. Right here. 

Please pass these videos on when you can.

January 09, 2012

Get a Smart Phone or Die Alone

Before I left Vancouver to live on Salt Spring Island, I used to attend this event called the High Tech Communicator's Exchange (HTCE) organized by a woman named Catherine Ducharme who runs her own Communications firm called OutsideIn.

It was a great way to meet other people who were also interested in technology and new media or whatever you want to call it, especially as it impacts those of us who are/were employed in some aspect of Marketing and Communications. It was a great way to learn often presented in the form of Case Studies.

So, tonight, I went back to HTCE  to hear Shawn Neumann, the president and founder of Domain7 give a talk about Why Mobile Matters to Your Online Marketing Strategy.  What the heck does that mean you ask? It means, what are we going to do if we're in charge of strategizing about communications when it comes to developing appropriate content and reaching the right people at the end of all those smart mobile devices.  Androids. iPods. iPads. iPhones. etc. etc.

I was hearing words like Responsive Web. QR codes. Augmenting reality. HTML5.  Location based promotions. And, you know, having worked in Computer Science at UBC, I just let terminology that means nothing to me roll over me like the rough tongue of a cat alerting me to wake-up and pay attention.  But, tonight, it wasn't the words or the info that was disturbing me even though every speeding bullet of change that technology brings does cause a little bit of anxiety but at least I have faith, proven from past experience, that I can learn so it will be okay. And besides, technology has a way of sounding more complicated than it almost always is once someone explains it in non-geek speak.

What was disturbing to me, however, was that even though I'd only been gone about 3-4 years, somehow I looked around the room and I felt like Rip van Winkle. A mere four years had passed and yet I'd become ancient in that time period.   I was noticing young women with gorgeous hair, perfect make-up, shiny black boots that fit perfectly over their thin calves and thinking to myself, "How could I possibly have aged this much in a mere 4 years?  How did I get so much further to the right on those demographic bar charts?

Well, I'll tell you. On Salt Spring, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I'd roll out of bed and I'd still be wearing the same T-shirt under my sweater that I'd slept in all night. Appearance just wasn't a priority there. I didn't own a full-length mirror for three years. I didn't own a scale. Step onto that island and step into some timeless dimension.

I wasn't looking at myself. I was looking at the beautiful Arbutus trees and paying attention to nature and watching the changes in the clouds. I was looking through my camera's viewfinder, not at the thousands of shades of lipstick in London Drugs. There WAS no London Drugs. I wasn't enticed by a million styles of boots and handbags with brand names that make absolutely no sense like Coach. Coach? I didn't have a TV so I wasn't watching What Not To Wear thinking someone really needs to nominate me for that TV show.

And, if all that physical self comparison wasn't bad enough, when I got back on the Skytrain to come home, it seemed like I was the only one in my compartment who wasn't logged on, plugged in, hooked up, wired.  Completely separate in their togetherness, their fingers scurrying like rodents, craning their necks to see the screens, their beaks almost poking the hardware and then there was me - smartphone-less - with no choice but to observe the cold, digital future of humanity and feel a little more out of touch and a little more anxious.

But, hey, at least now, after HTCE, I'm aware of what I should be paying attention to and as a result I'm feeling a little more clued in about why I'm feeling so clued out.

So, what about you? Got your finger on the pulse? (Not your own that is). Feeling overwhelmed by change? Determined to rage, rage against the dying of the light? How are you going to, as that Heart and Stroke commercial so effectively puts it, "Make Death Wait".

January 01, 2012

Small Moments: Some Even Worth Writing About

One of this year's favourite photos and perhaps a good approach to the year ahead.
One useful thing about a Blog is that you can review it and remind yourself about the small moments that made up another 365 days.

"...some moments are nice, some are 

nicer, some are even worth writing about.” 

Here are a few moments that made up my year in 2011.
Until I reviewed the posts, I totally forgot that this was the year I turned 50. WOW! How could I forget that?
I celebrated 50 at  Tigh-Na-Mara with good friends.
  • Enjoyed spending time at Bruce's Kitchen checking in for Twitter.
  • Learned about Tai Chi through Taoist Tai Chi classes in the United Church on Salt Spring.
  • Had the best time ever with sisters visiting Salt Spring for The Fall Fair.
  • Absolutely loved spending time in the garden of The Harbour House Hotel watching the blooming of the seasons and taking photos and Tweeting.
  • Made a 3 minute video through Reel Youth on behalf of a weekend workshop  put on through United Way Lower Mainland. 
  • Enjoyed the sailing outings on the L'Orenda and the people I met.
  • Where were you all these years? Finally saw The Big Lebowski
  • Year's biggest realization: I should be working one on one with people. Duh!
  • Took a freelance writing refresher course through The Renegade Writer
  • Discovered my favourite pub: The Crow N Gate, Cedar, BC
  • Favourite Coffee Shop in Vancouver: The Prophouse on Venables
  • Went on a kayak trip up Indian Arm on an August weekend with Heather, Karen and Lisa.
  • One of my favourite past-times throughout this year: Walking down Walkers Hook Road on Salt Spring with my camera in hand headed for the Fernwood dock. I really miss that walk already.
  • I wrote a couple of articles for Boulevard Magazine 
  • Twitter became a daily event.
  • Enjoyed meeting Nomi.
  • Had a great year this last year at the Salt Spring Saturday Market selling my photos.
  • Favourite new person I met this year:  Thorsten Baumeister.
  • Friend I got to know better as the year progressed: Gwen
  • Really good memories of being seated in the sun room enjoying the company of my friend and 88-year-old landlady, Marjorie Martin.
  • Another dream accomplished and complete: Moved off Salt Spring in November after 3 years.
  • My former classmate Susan Main was a lifesaver with some timely subcontract work.
  • Took a wonderful course on Salt Spring from their Hospice program that was so useful as I was with my father for two weeks until the end of his life.
  • Was accepted into SFU's Writer's Studio Creative Writing program to start January.
  • Experienced the end of my father's life after his 93 years on the planet.
Pay attention to the small moments in 2012.