Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sam and Drake

I'm looking on this bug - a throat, lungs and general acheyness bug - as a gift. Instead of doing all the busy things I should do today, including the library protest rally and Authors for Indies - I'm sorry, my librarian and writer friends - I have to sit in my house and garden, messing about with my manuscript and editing other people's essays. And reading two newspapers and eating the soup that's in the fridge. In other words, having a wonderful day.

I have just moved the lines of the last page of the manuscript around fourteen times. It's perfect now. Until I read it again.

So in the absence of anything to say - have not watched TV, not read a book since "Patrin," not worked in the garden, gone on a walk, been anywhere, done anything but cough - I will post this for your viewing pleasure. The famous rapper Drake has just put out a new CD with a graphic of him perched on the edge of the C.N. Tower. And one of my son's friends came up with this:
Sam as the C.N. Tower with Drake on his shoulder. Damn that's a good-looking man. And Sam isn't bad either. LOL.

P.S. How can you tell I'm really sick? This bottle of wine has lasted FOUR DAYS.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Love Is, installment # 6748

Still recovering, overjoyed to be sick in my own cosy home, and to have little to do until next Tuesday when teaching starts. Have been lying in bed fiddling with my manuscript and reading, including my blog friend Theresa Kishkan's beautiful new novella "Patrin," which I enjoyed very much. Wonderful to have concentrated reading time for great work like that.

Times like this always remind me of my acting days, when there was no choice, no matter how sick you were, but to go on stage and do your thing. Now I can lie here and feel sorry for myself as long as I want to. Until Tuesday. No, until Saturday afternoon, when if I can I'll go to Authors for Indies - writers supporting independent bookstores around the city. I'll go to Book City on the Danforth in the afternoon, if I am sure I won't infect everyone. And Sunday afternoon, I'm going to see my Vancouver friend Nettie Wild's documentary "Koneline" at Hot Docs. The city is overwhelming with events and activities - so much going on this weekend, just as well I will lie here for at least part of it and do nothing.

Except for a few hours today, because the family came to visit. How glad I was to see my daughter and her two sons, the big one and the small one, the one telling me how dinosaurs were stinked, and the one crawling all over the kitchen, pulling things off shelves, standing with some help and babbling incessantly. I do not envy my daughter two very energetic boys; she says Ben is even more physical than Eli was, moving more with more strength. But she can handle anything. That's who she is.

Her mother, on the other hand, after lunch at the House on Parliament and a visit here, was thankful after they'd left to sink back onto the sofa. More time for them next week, when health has returned. Anna brought some homemade clam chowder, and friends Gretchen and Jack brought over some borscht. And strangely, there just happen to be several bottles of red wine around. I might live.
 I want that t-shirt.
I want that smile. This boy's middle name should be Glee - though he told me his new nickname is Super Flash and he is wearing Angry Birds underpants. He has left me behind already.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Beth's writing classes

Teaching starts next week: Life Stories on Tuesday evenings at U of T and True to Life on Wednesday evenings at Ryerson. There's room left in the Ryerson class; please check this website under "Teaching" for more details. Hope to see you there!

I'm in bed. Whatever was incubating in Banff bloomed into a nasty bug on the plane. The irony is that I went to my Wednesday class at the Y anyway, because I can't not go - staggered around in the class, came home and collapsed, body aching, throat raw. The sad thing is that I can't see my grandchildren until I'm better, hopefully tomorrow. But mostly - ye gods, I'm glad this waited until I got home. There's nothing worse than being sick on the road. Wonderful to be in my own lovely bed.

There are long lists that I must get to when I can. But somehow, I gained a calm and peace on my trip that I'll struggle to hang onto here. The manuscript of the next memoir is in pretty solid shape, at least for this draft. I am carrying the beauties of this magnificent country in my heart, as I cough and sneeze. There's so much going on in this city, it's ridiculous. Hot Docs!

If I'm well, I'll be going to this:

Library workers are at a critical stage in bargaining with the library board.  It could go either way in the next few days. 
The board could double down and refuse to address conditions that make library work precarious and further weaken service.
Or, the board could address concerns of library workers and supporters of Our Public Library and create the conditions that will produce better services for Torontonians.
This latter outcome will be more likely if supporters like you express your views now.
In the coming days, I will let you know specifically how you can help, starting with an event you may wish to attend this Saturday. Please join us for a Teddy Bears Picket at Nathan Phillips Square from  11 am to 1 pm on Saturday, April 30th.

And here's something for your reading pleasure:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Star Wars and home

OH blessed home, the most beautiful place on earth, though Banff, Vancouver and Long Beach come close, very very close, but they're not home. I walked into my house which was shining and warm and familiar, everything I know, and it's all mine. My grandmother's vase, my mother's silver ladle, the portrait of my grandfather. And yet, as I looked around, I thought, there's too much. Get rid of some of it.

That often happens when I come home, but then I forget. I'll try not to forget this time. Too much.

I am carrying so much with me - not stuff, but memories that I'll be processing for a long time. Can't deal with them now. I went straight out to the garden - daffodils, garlic growing, green things pushing forth. The trees don't even have buds though - I'll get to go through another spring from beginning to end. Lucky me.

Here are my last travel shots:
 This morning's walk. I brought a little pine branch with cone home with me to smell the woods.
 from the airport bus - big sky
 and little mountain
How the world has changed - this is the journal section of the Calgary airport. All of those! There must be a lot of journal writing going on. Repeat after me: "I feel ..."

On the plane, I watched the latest Star Wars - the perfect way to watch it, when the noise got too much I could take out my earphones and just watch in silence. I thought it was silly and fun, but mostly silly, and very loud. At one point, there was my friend Harriet Walter for about three seconds, bandaging someone on a spaceship. Incredible that they'd bring in one of the best actresses in the world for a three second bit with one line. But what fun for her.

So. Dear Carol my tenant left me dinner in the fridge, I heated it up and opened a bottle of wine, and here I am. I already have a list for tomorrow, at the head of which is TAXES. Reality. How great is reality.

goodbye to the invisible elk

A final post from Banff - a cool drizzly morning. I just went for last quick walk in the woods, stepping over tons of elk and deer scat - but we saw no elk this weekend. Next time we should invite them specifically.

When Wade Davis was giving his seminar, however, outside the window I watched two white-tailed deer, nibbling on the grass until chased away by kids with cell-phone cameras. A wonderful sight. And a further word about Mr. Davis, who is without question admirably generous and passionate about all the right causes - except one. He launched into a diatribe about memoir - "the cult of narcissism, littering the world with your story." "You will find no self-reflction in my books," he said. "I will NEVER use the words 'I feel.'"

And I thought, here's a man who wants to save the world - at least, to save the biosphere. And wouldn't that be a lot easier and more manageable if there were more men in the world, a lot more men, willing and able to use the words 'I feel'?

Well, I feel mightily - that this has been an extraordinary adventure and now I'm ready to go home.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Peter Gzowski and the planet

Last week I mentioned a beautiful video on YouTube of the earth, expanding to take in the entire universe and then compressing into our smallest atoms. My friend Lesley Humphrey sent me the link. Thank you!

And here, FYI, is my nearly 20-year old Globe article about Peter Gzowski at the end of his career, posted because you'll read in the previous post about his producer Hal Wake's interview with Elly Danica, mentioned in the piece.
Globe and Mail, Feb. 17, 1997

I miss him already and he hasn't even gone yet, although they say he'll soon disappear. Until now, even after long absences, he has always come back. How can this country survive in the morning if Peter Gzowski vanishes for good? Every day his voice floats out to claim us, like a ribbon held by a teacher leading school children on an excursion. We listeners are all holding on to the coast-to-coast ribbon of Gzowski's voice.

Yet I had many Gzowski-free years – when I was studying, or at work early, or working at night and sleeping in.  I heard people talking about various interviews and issues from the show, but I wasn't listening.

Then there were the years when his program was a lifeline. From the highly-charged stimulation of my work, I moved into the domestic cocoon of a stay-at-home mother of one and then two small children. It's a hard transition from one kind of satisfaction to another, and although I was exactly where I wanted to be, there were days when the isolation inside the walls of the house made me nutty. But I was never alone, even when the children were asleep, because an intelligent, courteous man spent the whole morning talking to me. By noon I had managed to accomplish a few things perhaps, a load of laundry or dishes, picking up toys, getting dressed, but all the time I'd been absorbed in interesting, sometimes unforgettable, conversation.

I was working in the kitchen the morning Peter interviewed a soft-voiced Prairie woman who had just put out a book of poetry. Her name was Elly Danica; the book, called "Don't – A Woman's Word", was about her nightmare childhood during which, she told us, she was sexually abused, for years, by her father and his friends. This was before adults had started to speak publicly about the secret horrors of childhood. I had to stop and sit down, to be able to comprehend what she was saying; my mind kept repeating, "Her father? And his friends?" As her steady voice told its tale, I was so devastated I could hardly move, and wondered if everyone listening across the country was as heartsick as I. It felt like all of Canada discovering the reality of child sexual abuse right then, all together.

I have never forgotten, either, the joyful interview with the couple who had been surprised with a pregnancy when the wife was 49. Holding their one-year old whom they had brought with them, they talked about getting all the baby things they'd bought for their grandchildren back for their own baby, about facing old age and mortality with a young child. The baby started to babble into the microphone, and the grownups shut up to listen. From the stillness of the studio came a long series of musical gurgles, a much-loved baby singing his song. Then Peter laughed, "Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are listening to baby talk."

With Gzowski, even listening to baby talk, I wasn't only a housewife in her kitchen, I was a citizen of a vast country of fascinating, brave, quirky, opinionated, hilarious, literate, talented, world-traveling citizens. Through the years, though he doesn't know it, Gzowski interviewed me, too – about my scintillating life, my fabulous children, my hopes for the future.

I know he isn't perfect. Sometimes he's gruff, sometimes unctuous, too ready to please; points that are important but perhaps not pleasant slip by. Or he's too polite to people I detest, or not polite enough to people I admire. He must have done thousands of interviews, though, over his years at the microphone, yet I have never heard a single major gaffe. He must have made one, but I didn't notice.

What is it that makes him special, that makes his replacements, charming as they are, not quite Peter? They're so much younger than he is, for one thing; they've experienced so much less. Peter has been there, done that. He's relaxed, warm and open, his humour self-deprecating and generous; he makes his guests comfortably welcome while probing their lives. His style, the same with heads of state or with village bird watchers, is intimate, down-home, as if all those strangers, one after another, come to sit in his kitchen while he pours coffee and slices his special banana bread.

Yet for all his seeming effortlessness, he's a superb craftsman, alert and well-prepared; he shapes interviews, bringing people back to missed topics, picking up loose ends. He even manages an ending for most of the talks, a wrap-up flourish or a laugh line. In the U.S., this would need to be a big moment, because the prime concern of the network is selling the advertising space that follows. Here, Peter's finales lead to a nice piece of music, and then Peter again, more coffee, more banana bread.

How reassuringly Canadian that this far-flung population is united by a single radio personality, like the CPR. And what a Canadian personality. Not a right-wing blowhard, like those so popular on the radio south of us, or a man of any political stripe whatsoever – in fact, what are Gzowski's politics? Who is Peter Gzowski anyway? We know that his clothes are rumpled, he wasn't a hit on TV, he plays golf, he still smokes. Otherwise, when you consider that the man is as ubiquitous as any Canadian politician or entertainer, we know remarkably little about him.

I see Peter as the ideal small-town barber. You sit in his chair and jabber away, and he listens and asks questions, and you talk some more. And at the end, he whips off the cape and you look in the mirror, and you're the same person, only better – sharper, funnier, more knowledgeable, more in touch. Don't leave us, Peter. Let us sit in your chair while you make us look better, while you make us look at each other. How can we join this country in the morning, from sea to shining sea, without you? 

the naked Mountie and other stories

So much to say about the Creative Non-fiction Collective's conference, but I'll keep it brief. It all started from the plane, flying over the Rockies which, though shrouded in mist and cloud, were still visible in all their zebra-striped magnificence. And then suddenly they're gone and it's the dusty flat grey-gold prairie, and there, in the middle, a metropolis where people wear strange hats. So many wearing big white cowboy hats in the airport, where you really need to keep the dust and sun out of your eyes.

The Banff Centre for the Arts, as I've said many times before, is a miracle, a huge institution in the mountains dedicated to creativity and innovation. And for the weekend, not just a group of non-fiction writers from around the country, but another group having their own conference called Bodyssey: the Canadian Association of Face and Body Painters. Yes. It was impossible for us writers to take ourselves too seriously because we were surrounded, all weekend, by people made up as monsters and skeletons and reptiles - and, unforgettably, as a Mountie wearing only a tiny bit of underwear and otherwise completely naked beneath a painted uniform.

As soon as I arrived, there were new friends to be made, as I sat eating - yes - an elkburger at the MacLab bistro, chatting with a fascinating crowd. Next day, getting ready for my Master Class and then delivering it, from 1.30 to 4. I wasn't sure it'd work since I hadn't done this before - working with strangers, getting them to stand up and read - but by all reports, it went well. We then listened to a keynote speech by Quebecois writer Deni Bechard, who is full of idealism and has done marvellous work around the world, but who irritated the hell out of me on several occasions, as when, in his keynote, he spoke about how "the stodgy voices of my writing teachers" had damaged his work. He often sounded judgemental, cynical and arrogant, and later spoke so viciously about Toronto that I almost stood up shouting. But that's what a good conference is about - getting the conversation started. So all is appreciated, all in a good cause.

We heard several inspiring speakers, including Wade Davis, as I've written, and also an amazing encounter between longtime Gzowski producer Hal Wake and a woman called Elly Danica, who was interviewed by Peter in November 1988 about the book she'd published detailing the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her father and his friends. I wrote a piece in the Globe about Gzowski and especially about this interview, when I had to sit down and listen, barely able to comprehend what I was hearing, it was so powerful. Hal interviewed her skilfully about what the publication of her memoir has meant in her life, and she responded with honesty and humour; she told us, for example, that after the publication, her father wanted a share of the profits because it was his story too. Hard to believe, but true. Which could be the title of many works of non-fiction. A meaningful encounter for us all.

Camilla Gibb spoke with Susan Olding about her memoir, James Fell about social media, tons of other stuff was going on without a break. All of this organized by a volunteer board spread around the country, some of whom had never met before coming together at Banff. Bravo to them all, it was hugely appreciated and valuable. At some point soon, I will transcribe some of the great things I noted and share them with you.

As you know, I spent yesterday on the Icefields Highway with Jane. The weather has been pretty bad, chilly and wet, but with moments of clear sky, even sun. One of those was this morning, so I climbed Tunnel Mountain behind Banff, something I've done each time I come here. It's a good climb, not even 2 k. but straight uphill. I didn't quite finish, as it started to drizzle when I was 3/4 of the way there and I turned around. But it's spectacular.
That's the Banff Centre in the centre-left, and further down, beautiful downtown Banff.

Today, working in my room, lunch with Alisa Gordaneer, the indomitable president of our Collective and organizer of the event, and John Barton, poet and editor of the Malahat Review, who wrote a sonnet yesterday based on a conversation about drugs we'd had over a glass of wine and sent it to me. A new BFF.

It was a great experience. I sold all the books I brought - six only, but still, all of them gone and I could have sold more. And it surprised me, the many connections I had with the people here. Hal Wake, for example, hailed me immediately, not from radio or the theatre but from the drama club at Carleton University in 1968, a connection I'd completely forgotten. A woman told me she'd read all my Globe articles through the years and was thrilled to meet me in person. Oh, the footprint of a long life. It's good to be this old.

Right now, I am not having dinner with my colleagues but sheltered in my room with a sore throat, fearful of catching a cold as I head home to take up the threads of my life. It has been a phenomenal five week trip. Thank you for coming along. See you soon, back - like it or not, Deni Bechard - in the centre of the universe.

Jane sent this - a picture of Lake Louise, where she stayed last night, with the top of the mountains showing:
And here's a shot to warm the heart of every theatre person everywhere - Obama at the Globe in London, celebrating Shakespeare. Incredible.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

the Icefields Parkway of heaven

No words tonight, just pictures. The conference is over. This morning, my new friend Jane, whom I'd met only briefly in Toronto before we met again here, took me in her rental VW bug up the Icefields Parkway, north of Banff, to Lake Louise, which was still covered in snow, and then further north. We'd thought of making it to Jasper but didn't have time and it began to pour. Still, it was a magnificent trip. What a breathtaking country we live in.
Lake Louise

happy camper
 from the car window

Saturday, April 23, 2016

my two seconds of fame in Maccaland

My friend Anne, fellow McCartney nut, just sent me this - she found it on the net. The two women were sitting next to me; the blurry one is moi, heading for my seat.
I'm overwhelmed again, here at the conference - much to think about. But I've just had two glasses of very good wine and am about to head off to our banquet. So I'm won't rave just yet.

But FYI, the girl is happy.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Creative non-fiction at the Banff Centre

Banff. Too much to say, will write more about it all tomorrow. I'm here for the Creative Non-fiction Collective's conference, gave a Master Class this afternoon on the Writer as Performer. Amazing people, speakers, and this place, this heavenly spectacular place, the Banff Centre for the Arts. Above, a picture shot through the window of the bus from the Calgary airport to Banff.
Hemingway, one of the Leighton Colony studios in the woods - sometimes surrounded by elk - that writers, musicians and painters are eligible to use. I worked in Hemingway, named not for the writer but for an architect, three times, finished my first book there, love love love the tiny tranquil place.
Tunnel Mountain behind the Centre  - the classic Banff shot. To take this, I walked in the woods over lots of elk scat, luckily none from cougars or bears, as least that I could see.
Banff Springs Hotel - what a location! And below, a shot taken from our dining room of a storm coming in at dusk.
 I say humbly that this is one of my favourites of all the photos I've taken. Isn't it an Alec Colville canvas? Also taken through our dining room window: three teenagers, one with this back to the most spectacular view in Canada, on their cellphones.
And then, to my delight, who was on the TV set above the bar taking about Obama in London with the Queen but my beloved neighbour Richard Berthelson, royal expert and commentator. It gave me a big hit of home far from home. Soon I'll be able to hug him in the flesh.

The conference has been overwhelming, particularly the talk I've just come from by environmentalist activist and writer Wade Davis, one of the best talks I've ever heard, facts and ideas, thoughts and statistics and love of the land rolling from his tongue, about the destruction of the native headlands of B.C. by mining interests. Heartbreaking, yet funny, yet poetic, yet filled with anger and sorrow. I led a standing ovation at the end, and I do not do that lightly.

More anon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4/20 Vancouver - the smoke wafts in

It's 8.35 p.m. and right now, in the Rogers Arena, that band of four of the best musicians in the world are coming on stage to back up the magnificent Macca music machine. Three hours of pure delight awaits those lucky 19,000 people. And I am glad to be here, in Bruce's aerie, not there, even though I am surrounded by thousands of people too. Outside, on the beach.

It's the pot festival in Vancouver, 4/20, as it's called, a celebration and protest that's illegal, right now, though the government of Canada has just announced pot will be legal by next year. But in any case, the police ignore the illegality. The event has been going on for years, but this year the venue was changed to Sunset Beach, just down from Bruce's. When I walked to the little ferry this morning, already there were hundreds of people - and scores of little stalls selling various kinds of dope in little bags and in cookies, brownies, candies, everything - plus assorted paraphernalia and tie-dye t-shirts. Every kid seemed to have dreads and tattoos and piercings and large holes in their ears and ripped jeans. It looked just like Woodstock, only with legal pot advertised and openly sold in stalls, like a craft fair, and with loud rap music. I thought, Capitalism is alive and well! This started as an event to protest the pot laws and has ended up as a shopping mall.
The view from the ferry - all those umbrellas are little pot shops. Buy your Kush here! The ferry driver told me the police had concerns the drivers would be impaired by all the smoke. He laughed.

This evening I walked back through it - it was officially over at 7 so many were drifting away, leaving giant piles of garbage behind. But still, it was amazing to see hoards of very stoned kids, lying on the grass, gazing blankly around, eating - many cases of the munchies. Took me back. Did not want to be taken back, not to those particular times. But they all looked happy. It was a stunning day - 24 degrees, like July.

But as my friend David Diamond points out on FB, we should not be saying, What a beautiful day. We should be saying, it should not be 24 degrees in mid-April. It was truly weird, the downtown beaches jammed, the sun burning. In April.

I had lunch with dear friend Tara and her friend Perri, outside in Tara's garden surrounded by bluebells and birds at her feeders. Then Chris came to get me in his new car. Yes, in the middle of his nervous breakdown which is fast fading, he decided he does not want to deal with crowds and city sidewalks and the way to avoid that is in a car. So he simply went out and bought one - a red Fiat convertible. And there it was, like a gorgeous little cherry, waiting for me.
Wind in our hair, we drove out to Spanish Banks and had a fantastic walk along the water.
Can you see the city in the distance? What a setting.

Tonight Chris and I met for dinner on Davie St. one last time, his favourite Indonesian restaurant. I teased him that for months before I came, he was madly cooking recipes from Ottolenghi, also my favourite chef, and promising me home-made goodies - and that as soon as I arrived, he stopped cooking. Almost - I did have some delicious treats including a lemon meringue tart I will never forget. Chris is so much better, far more relaxed, able to talk almost normally most of the time. On the mend. A cherry red Fiat convertible will certainly help.

And I'm on the road early tomorrow - to Banff. See you there.

Macca rocks Vancouver.

Sir Paul, YOU ROCK. Both figuratively and literally.

Incredible, non-stop charm, charisma, phenomenal music - the best rock band ever, no question, so tight and skilled, the music unrelenting, one hit after another with such an extraordinary range - soft ballads, old rock'n'roll, loud screamers, the weird electronic "Temporary Secretary," he can do them all, and he WROTE THEM ALL. Yes, his voice is rough, no question, but the man is a performer like no other. The show is the best yet - at one point, there was a projection on the stage that looked like an old house, the band gathered close around Paul, Abe played on a small drum kit, and it was like an intimate house concert as they played their first recorded song from about 1962. Then an explosion of psychedelic colour, then a parade of glorious shots of women behind "Lady Madonna," then the flaming flashpots of "Live and let die" - what a show. What a showman. Oh, and Diana Krall popped in to play the piano at one point.

Those of us at the front were on our feet for the entire show, dancing - at least, moving slightly in the tight space - and singing along. The sound of 19,000 people singing at the top of their lungs - wondrous.

Here's the Vancouver Sun review. Drink it in.

The sound check was thrilling, as it was in Toronto - we were kept well back from the stage, but still, it was a private one hour long concert of songs he doesn't do in the show while testing all the instruments in the vast space - the Hofner violin bass, surely the most iconic guitar ever, the red Les Paul, the two pianos, the ukelele, the acoustic guitar. When he sang All My Loving, the security guard nearby sang along, beaming. Paul was wearing baggy black jeans and a blue shirt, chatted, was friendly but looked pale and tired. He sang 13 or 14 songs and then we were dismissed to go to our delicious vegetarian dinner with free-flowing wine and beer, while - those of us who lingered in the hall heard - he rehearsed with the Delta Police Force Pipe Band on "Mull of Kintyre" for half an hour.

I had dinner with Laura from Seattle and Steve from Edmonton, both superfans who make me look like the merest amateur. And Paul had a short break before doing a 3 hour show which he'll repeat, with sound check, tomorrow. And then on to a score of other concerts.

What drives him? He's the richest musician in the world, it's not money. It's just his life - you can see how he drinks it in, the adulation of thousands of people, the waves of applause, the shouts of joy. It doesn't bore him. It's his music and he wants us to share it with him. It's his life.

I did bring a sign and waved it a few times; he reads the ones that amuse him, and chooses someone from the audience to come on stage and meet him, and he signs their sign or their arm. As I said, it's so not me, but I made myself do it, tried to figure out something amusing. Finally, I wrote, "52 YEARS A PAUL GIRL. TIME FOR A HUG." I thought that was cheeky enough. But a family - parents, grandmother and six kids - all in shiny Sgt. Pepper costumes, made the cut. (They introduced themselves; all the kids had hippy names. One of the girls was named Ocean. "Atlantic or Pacific?" asked Paul.) Thank God. The thought that I might actually be brought on stage in front of 19 thousand people was terrifying. I was going to give him my book and say that he has been singing to me all my life and that, speaking for everyone in the room, he is a gift to the planet and we thank him and we love him. I didn't get to say that. But he knows it.

And now I'm done. That book is done, it's over, I'm putting it aside and moving right along. Thank you, my dear friend, for a lifetime of glorious music. And now I have work to do, and so do you.

Coming in for the sound check...
 and for the concert.
 A fellow fan
None of my shots are any better than this. He's incandescent. (And I'm a lousy photographer.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

going to meet my Macca

 The huge communal garden at Davie and Burrard, already in full swing. It'll be another month before we in Ontario can even begin~
A profusion of clematis, in mid-April. Incredible. But what I'm really in love with are the azalea and rhodo trees. Yes, thick trees of these exotic flowers; chez nous, we're lucky if a little bush survives.

I walked to the Y, more for a long shower and sauna than a workout, and then back down Robson Street, window-shopping.

Today is my Aunt Do's 96th birthday. An inspiration to us all - living alone, in full possession of her faculties, still winning, sometimes, at Scrabble. Long may she reign. And may I have those genes, please.

Soon, Macca. Who has pretty great genes himself.

Monday, April 18, 2016

English Bay, sunset and orca

 Just back from a sunset walk along English Bay - just me and forty-five thousand other people
 including a passle of Tibetan monks, who were as preoccupied with taking selfies and videos with their fancy cameras and talking on their phones as anyone else.
The greatest thrill - the whale. I've heard about the whale seen every so often in English Bay, and suddenly there he was, the orca, on the other side of the bay but clearly visible, his giant fin slicing through the water and then submerging again. And then he vanished once more.
And so did our sun.

A blessing on you and all you love.

Stanley Park summer

Ye gods, it's full on summer here today - 22, 23 degrees. I was cursing my stupidity in bringing summer clothes, and now, a few days before departure, I need them. Hot and glorious.

Spent time in the morning reading Norman Doidge's book "The brain that changes itself" - it was Chris's copy and I will definitely buy my own, riveting - about how our whole concept of the brain has recently changed, how much we can influence our functioning and health ourselves, by consciously rewiring the circuitry in our own brains.

Chris and I walked in Stanley Park - not the seawall this time, but through the middle of this huge fantastic park with its giant cedars, its oases of entertainment - Planetarium, theatre etc. - and lakes and ponds and flowerbeds and rose gardens.
 On the way to the park - a bed of tulips - what colour is this? Maroon? Blood red?
 Overheating by the flowerbeds. It's too bad this woman has such a tiny receding chin.

Then we had Indonesian food on Denman and now it's a quiet evening getting myself together and working. Tomorrow - Macca. I am there, in the bowels of the Rogers Centre, from 4 p.m. on what will be the most beautiful day of the year, but I won't mind. I have even made a sign. I won't tell you yet what it says, but believe me, it has been a trial to figure out what to say. People hold up signs for him, and that is SO NOT ME. And yet I want to say something warm and funny to him, so I have.

Too much beauty, heat and excitement for one little old lady from Toronto.

P.S. The Sun newspaper published a picture of the elite men runners of the Sun Run race - five Africans and two white guys. I'm amazed to report that a Canadian male won and female too. Eric Gillis of Guelph beat Christopher Cheruiyot of Nairobi, and Lanni Marchant from Ontario beat Risper Gesabwa also of Kenya. This takes some doing; Africans win races for good reason, extraordinary endurance and focussed training. So - good on ya, Canucks.

oh yeah

Sunday, April 17, 2016

the Sun Run

A moment of such sublime happiness this morning that I was overcome. The most perfect day - sunny and mild with a breeze. The Sun Run started just before 9 a.m., a 10 k. done by 65,000 people - yes, 65,000 - and they all go right by Bruce's front door. The elite women start early and went by first, then the superhuman, the Africans and one white guy keeping up somehow, lean running machines, all muscle and sinew, stunning, like human cheetahs. Then the elite men, then the fast men and the fast people and then wave after wave of normal people running their hearts out, including little kids, Sikhs, someone dressed as a big pile of moss. The two man band across the street was at one point playing "Dear Prudence" - "It's a brand new day ay ay" - groups of dragon boat rowers skimmed over the water, the music, the mountains, the ocean, the runners, I'm dancing and singing and weeping for the joy of being alive on this beautiful amazing planet.               Click to enlarge
 The Africans and one white man - grace and strength
 the elite men
 from Bruce's balcony going ...
 ... and coming
And coming some more. These are the normal runners. Multiply this by many thousands. Fantastic.

Chris and I went for a long walk. He wanted to avoid the runners so we went the other direction and of course ran into them everywhere - we passed B.C. Place, the huge stadium where the race finished, an enormous pile-up of people outside and loud cheering and music from inside.
Chris admires a garden full of colour; he smells every flower we go by and greets every dog. It's spring!
B.C. place and the dragon boat parking lot.

We walked all around False Creek in the hot sun and ended on Granville Island where he bought himself a beautiful huge glass vase at Circle Crafts to celebrate the fact that he's getting through his crisis, talking almost normally and learning a lot about himself. I celebrate that too, with all my heart. We got the ferry back to his place where he fed me divine Ottolenghi Waldorf salad made with his homemade mayonnaise, and another piece of the lemon meringue pie that I would crawl across broken glass for - his own lemon curd and Italian meringue - OMG. And while we ate lunch, I was doing my laundry at Chris's. Laundry is a big deal when you're on the road.

Now my clothes are clean, Bruce's NYTimes awaits, the sailboats are crowding English Bay, the mountains are purple in the distance, and in a week and a bit, I'll be home where there are none of these things. And yet I'll be overjoyed there too. Aren't human beings miraculous?