Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some Random Things About Me

A meme borrowed from Tai's blog who borrowed it from Kim's blog who borrowed it from someone else.I am perpetuating the cycle. Oh, it's all an intricate tapestry...... :)

10 Favorites
Favorite Season: Spring...all that mucking about in the dirt and the birds yelling their heads off and the pure potential of it all...
Favorite Color: I'm hard pressed to say, but if it's in nature it would be that crazy bright blue you sometimes see in Mediterranean bays...think of the Blue Grotto in Capri.
Favorite Time: 10 pm. I get my best reading done in the bathtub round about that hour.
Favorite Food: It probably has ginger or a bit of curry in it.
Favorite Drink: Chai tea lattes from Starbucks. It's a bit morbid perhaps, but if possible, I buy one of these before boarding an airplane. Then, if the plane crashes, and I perish horribly, well at least the last thing I had on earth was a yummy chai latte.
Favorite Ice Cream: I once had an sour-apple flavor in Hell's Gate Park that was rather fabulous, but I'm a fan of chocolate-chip mint generally speaking.
Favorite Place: It's up in the mountains behind Cumberland, off a logging road. A place of sunny white rock and deep chilly pools and little waterfalls.
Favorite Sport: Sometimes, when nobody's looking, I watch hockey. I can't help it. I'm Canadian.
Favorite Actor: Harrison Ford. I think it may be a crush. I mean, first Han Solo, and then Indiana Jones? What's not to like?
Favorite Actress: Angelina Jolie is fun to watch. Audrey Hepburn appeals immensely. I'm fond of Geena Davis and I think Susan Sarandon is marvellous. It would be easier to pick just one if I had a crush though. :)

9 Currents
Current Feeling: Utterly relaxed.
Current Drink: Vanilla Earl Grey, steaming hot with cream, in a rather lovely pottery mug with a dragonfly on it.
Time: 1:15 pm
Current Show on TV: The television is most definitely off.
Mobile used: I've never owned one.
Windows Open: This could be a computer question, but, er, the bedroom window's open.
Current Underwear: Pink, with a sparkly heart.
Current Clothes: Jeans, blue sleeveless tank top, pink and red striped socks. Little blue butterfly barrettes.
Current Thought: Trying to figure out if I'm really hearing the violin music my friend can hear in a nearby apartment or whether it's just the power of suggestion.

8 Firsts
First Nickname: Chopper. I was a jowly baby.
First Kiss: Grade One. The love didn't last though. I can't even recall the little chap's name. I wish I could remember if I ever kissed Eddie in Kindergarten. I'm sure he would have liked me to kiss him as I recall.
First Crush: Danny in Grade Four.
First Best Friend: Andrea Horowitz in kindergarten.
First Vehicle I Drove: An awfully big pick-up truck with no power-steering. I was terrified.
First Date: Shane. He asked me out to dinner and to the movies, but my mom wasn't awfully keen about thirteen year-olds dating, so we went for long romantic hikes around the sewer lagoon instead. Does that count? It felt romantic at the time.
First Pet: A puppy named Rex, but we lived in the city at the time and didn't keep him for long.

7 Lasts
Last Drink: Tea at breakfast
Last Kiss: My husband.
Last Meal: Cornbread and sourdough toast at The Tomato on Cambie St. in Vancouver. I love going out for breakfast.
Last Web Site Visited: Tai's blog.
Last Movie Watched: Ronin, which features scenes from Arles and La Turbie in France. A grocery store that I visited is shot up. It also stars Jean Reno, whom Tai and I agree may not be classically handsome, but nonetheless we find him rather....likeable.
Last Phone Call: To Kim. She was shopping at Ikea at the time.
Last TV show Watched: The news.

6 Have You Ever...
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes. As a teenager I liked to climb on to the roofs of public buildings at night, and I can't help but feel that's probably frowned on.
Have You Ever Been Drunk: Yes, pleasantly so.
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: Yes. On both cheeks.
Have You Ever Been in the Middle/Close to Gunfire: I used to live down the street from the Rod&Gun Club, so my middle childhood was punctuated by the roar of rifles.
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: Last time I did, I was told I was channelling Aphrodite. How nice of them to say.
Have You Ever Broken Anyone's Heart: I don't suppose I have, but I like to think there's maybe someone out there pining for me, who's just not sayin'.

5 Things
Things You Can Hear Right Now: Mozart's Divertimenti playing on Tai's stereo, Tai reading interesting bits aloud from a book called "Collapse", on the destruction of past civilzations
Things You Can See Right Now: a funky hat on top of the computer, a little vase filled with cat whiskers, my friend reading
Things On Your Bed: pink pyjamas and lots of cushions
Things You Ate Today: Cornbread and toast and tea.'s almost time for lunch.
Things You Do When You Are Bored: Bored? what is this 'bored' thing you speak of?

4 Places You Have Been Today:
Granville Island Market.
A pottery gallery.
Tomato, a great Vancouver bistro
Tai's apartment.

3 Things On Your Desk Right Now:
I'm at my friend's desk right now and she has lot of interesting things on a Killer Rabbit puppet from Monty Python, but I'm going to envision my desk at home...

I have a beat-up journal that I scribbled in on my safaria through Kenya and Tanzania last year.
I have a little framed photo of my old cat Pook as a kitten.
And a faux crow on top of my computer that's real enough looking to have startled a friend of mine who is not particularly fond of birds.

2 Choices
Salt or Pepper: Pepper
Hot or Cold: Hot

1 Place You Want To Visit:
Nepal. I'm planning on going there year after next to visit my little friend Ritika outside Kathmandu. I'm going to Italy next May as well, but that's a place I've travelled to before.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

For Those of You Who Missed the Parade...Memories of a Home-made Dragon Costume

Queen Victoria might have described Sunday's small-town experience as "No pudding and no fun! " (as the grand lady was wont to say), but surely even she would applaud the dedication of coming out to the Victoria Day Parade in the pelting rain.

If you happened to be sensibly snug and dry in your bed that holiday morning, you missed:

* an ear-splitting array of fire-engine sirens, Sparky the Fire dog, and the sight of me waving and yelling to my friend Bridget in one of the fire-trucks. I earned her two points...she was having a little competition with her male fire-fighter friend to see who could get the most women to wave at them. She won. :)

* An entry by the Holy Chicken Performing Arts society featuring costumed stilt-walkers, hula-hoopers, fairies, and sinister-looking hooded medieval types

* Six, count'em, SIX pipe bands playing the two songs that bagpipes seem to play at parades. One of the pipers had a leopard pelt of some description over his shoulder. Are leopards traditionally Scottish?

*Hordes of children on decorated bicycles. I did this when I was a kid but I doubt I would've been dedicated enough to ride in the rain. It doesn't take that much work to tie the pom-poms on after all.

* A little black car with hand-painted flames on its hood which would lurch backwards and then gun the engine forward to produce a smoke show , instantly triggering a flood of memories from when my friend Tai used to do parking-lot smoke-shows in her Dodge Charger. Ah, those were the days....

* A parade of politicians in vehicles heavily advertising Dodge Chrysler Jeep. That's fine and all, but on many of the cars they'd forgotten to put the little sign up saying which politician/ very important person was inside. "So it's kind of like watching really slow traffic go by", observed my friend, who, like me, comes to these parades solely out of childhood nostalgia.

* And finally, two people valiantly trying to fill out a dragon costume. It was a favourite entry of mine. It may not have been spectacular, but Kim and I immediately shouted when we saw it.

You see, once upon a time, long years ago, but in this very village parade, the childhood selves of Tai and Kim and I wore a dragon costume too. It was dreadfully clever for something made from cardboard boxes and green garbage bags.

We worked long hours on it, and I've been looking around my house trying to find the old faded photograph of ourselves in all our reptilian glory, but perhaps it's better, gentle readers, if you use your imaginations.

Its cardboard mouth was open and lined with cardboard teeth. It had a long spiked back and a tail that could swish around if we were careful not to trip. The dragon wore a flowered lei around its neck, our sole concession to the Hawaiian theme of the parade day.

Iif I'm remembering correctly (ah, those fuzzy-edged happy memories) we'd stop walking along the parade route every so often to do a little marching-in-place Dragon Dance .

It was hot and dark inside the beast :if you think about it, that's very authentic for being inside a dragon under any circumstance.

Tai was the brains behind the head of our lizard, Kim walked in the middle, and I was the tail-swisher. It was a long parade route to walk, hunched over and two out of three of us mostly-blind. I had a lovely view of our sneakers and the pavement.

But I remember our jubiliation when we won the ten dollar prize for Best Costume in our category (whatever that was). Back then, with a twenty-five cent a week allowance, ten dollars was big money. Even split four ways. You see, my other best friend in the world, Pol, helped make the dragon, even if she wasn't inside.

When we saw that dragon in this weekend's parade, we were thinking of that stuffy but nostalgic walk down the main street twenty years ago.

Watching this year's dragon, Kim's comment was: "They need a third person inside. Then it would have been great."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Crazy Big Flowers and Coffee Shop Goodbyes

Something I'm happy about:
I'm in love with my tree peony--it's got the craziest, most enthusiastically enormous flowers I know. A bride could use one of these flowers all by itself as a bouquet. But the bridesmaids trying to catch it would have to watch out. One of these beauties could probably knock the wind out of you if it hit you in the head.

I could swear they weren't in bloom yesterday. They just sort of exploded sometime in the wee hours of this morning.

Something I'm unhappy about:

My favourite local coffee-shop has been sold and is becoming a chain known as Serious Coffee . I have nothing against that chain in particular--I've never been to one...I only hope their coffee is not too serious---it's just that I'm going to miss Joe Read's . There are not enough fabulous coffee shops around alas.

They had the cheapest lattes in town. They had a sitting area where you could stay for a long time without staff hassling you to buy another drink (they had a chess board and board games available). You could browse their little book-shelves for something to buy and read, and they had obscure but talented musicians there jamming on their guitars or violins or harps on music nights. I met Oona McOuat here!

There was always local art on the walls, and darnit, that's where the local pagan Coffee Cauldron used to hang out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

One Hundred and Twenty in the Shade

It felt like summer today. Gorgeous hot sunshine. It felt so wonderful on my face this morning (well, behind a hat and liberal sunscreen that is).

But by mid-afternoon I felt like wilting, the delicate flower that I am. I was ready to hide in the shadows or stand in front of an open fridge. My body apparently hasn't adjusted yet from the cool Canadian winter temperatures.

I'm surprised at how much I felt the heat today. It's only twenty-eight degrees, I told myself. That's not much more than eighty Fahrenheit, right?

I've been hotter than this.

A few years back I travelled in Spain and Morocco in late July. Note to self: that's really not the smartest time of year to travel if you're not very fond of hot weather. The mercury was like nothing I've ever experienced before.

One bakingly-hot afternoon as we wandered through the eerily-quiet streets of Marrakech (there were a few merchants selling fruit and bottled water, but mostly it was just us and some mad dogs and Englishmen about), I noticed that the asphalt was becoming soft and malleable under my feet. You could push the toe of your shoe into the pavement and leave an impression. My feet could feel the heat uncomfortably through my thin rubber soles.

I had to laugh when I realized it was so hot my shoes were melting. They never did recover.

The temperature hit 52 degrees Celsius that day (that's around 125 Fahrenheit).

I watched fascinated as huge globules of sweat formed above the neckline of my dress, perfectly round drops that paused before they slid down my front and disappeared. I honestly didn't know I could produce so much perspiration.

You know the saying, "Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow"? Well, I was glowing so much you could have stuck me on the top of a light-house and used me as a beacon.

The air-conditioning unit in our hotel roared and coughed like a truck revving its engine, but it somehow was the sweetest sound when we finally sought refuge in our cool, dim room, firmly shuttered against the sun.

So I really shouldn't complain about a little Spring sunshine. But a breeze would be nice. Just a little one?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Work in Progress

Ever have a day (a week rather) when there are all sorts of things you'd like to write about on your blog, but for various reasons you just can't?


I'll just say that I'd really like to help a friend, but I'm fresh out of ideas.

I leave you instead with a photo of the top part of my new bellydance costume. I worked on it all day Saturday while I visited with Pol and I'm rather pleased with it--it's one way to recycle the odds and ends and mis-matched earrings in one's jewellry box!

Friday, May 12, 2006

I Blame Pac-Man

Remember when Pac-Man was the height of video-game sophistication?

I do. But I really, really sucked at playing it. Those little pixelated ghosts really annoyed me, the way they'd always run down and slaughter my little yellow pac-man before he even had half a chance to eat the little dots. The game was not dear to my heart.

So how did I get stuck in Grade 8 Home Economics class making an enormous fuzzy Pac-Man cushion? The material was thick yellow plush and wreaked havoc with the needle of my sewing machine. The red corduroy inset for his mouth was complicated. It was an awful first sewing project! Whatever happened to making a tea-towel or an apron?

The only part of the whole project that did not make my thirteen-year-old self weep or curse in despair was gluing the googly eyes to its head. That I could do.

The whole Pac-Man project turned me off sewing. It was not fun, and I was not talented at it. And I make a point of avoiding things which make me feel untalented.

I don't have that cushion anymore, although now I wish I'd kept it. To prove to folks that, under duress, I once operated a sewing machine.

Since then, I've painted and embroidered and decoupaged and sculpted and tried my hand at all sorts of creative endeavours...but will I sew, actually choose material and approach a sewing machine? The prospect makes me break out in a cold sweat.

That's why I'm grateful to friends like Sandra---friends who will hold my hand and guide me through the sewing process with detailed instructions: measure here, cut this length, iron on this interface, pound this grommet, rip this seam....

I was over at her house this evening working on the belt that's part of our dance troupe costume. It's a simple project really, and I was a little embarrassed at my lack of basic sewing knowledge. Again, I blame Pac-Man.

But all the actual sewing is over with now, except for hand-stitching some tassles and feathers on, which is do-able.

I spent a few hours this past week ripping old material scraps into long strips and braiding them into wild rag-tag pieces that will hang down from the velvet belt-panels which are laced together with criss-crossing cord.

We're going for a crazy, colourful, funky tribal look. Our troupe decided that our costume had to be as inexpensive as possible and so we're relying on creativity for this one rather than cash.

Everybody's costume will look a little different. Sandra showed me the black feathers from a boa she is adding to the top of her own. She is also hanging colourful scarves, little bells, and even a little wind-chime from her belt.

It's a work in progress still but I like the way it's looking so far. I wasn't so sure at first when I first heard Sandra's vision of the braids. But yes, I like them.

In fact I'm almost thinking the sewing-gods were looking more kindly upon me tonight. Mind you, the seam-ripper demanded a sacrifice and I wounded myself a little. But I'm in a much better mood than I was in Grade 8 sewing class.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gardens, Monks, and Sock Drawers

In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

--Margaret Atwood

Thanks for the quote, Kim. :)

I haven't been blogging as regularly as I used to--Spring is here and I get rather busy outside. My garden is my child and it's growing up nicely--but it's a rather messy kid and I'm the one who has to run after it. I haven't been spending much quality time in front of the computer.

As you can see from the photo, the bunny rabbits did not get all my tulips! These are the ones I planted late. If you get lazy in the autumn and don't plant your spring bulbs, you can hold off to February and still have them come up, at least in these parts. Oh, and I do get lazy in the autumn.

I also seem to be spending a fair bit of time spring-cleaning lately. I like things spacious and uncluttered, but stuff kinda creeps in and fills up the empty spaces.

I'm reminded of a class in Buddhism I took last year. The monk teaching the class told us about the time a friend of his arrived in Canada from Tibet with his meagre possessions. While staying at someone's home, he happened to see the contents of their sock drawer.

There were seventeen pairs of socks in the drawer.

Seventeen pairs! The visiting monk's mind reeled. He could not fathom why anybody would need so many. What was the purpose? Did Canadians need so many socks?

As a girl who rather likes socks,( and who also likes to have cozy feet in the winter and who probably has at least as many as seventeen pairs in various funky colours and patterns), I could gently explain to that poor bewildered monk why someone might have so many. But he does have a good point. I realize there is a saturation point when a person just has TOO MUCH of something.

This anecdote in class segued into a talk on letting go of possessions and the philosophy of non-attachment to things, but it was the story about the socks that came back to me this evening as I savagely went through my closet and drawers.

I filled three garbage bags full of clothing items to donate to a charity run that picks up tomorrow morning. Some of the clothes were given to me by friends to wear or sell, some items were things hopelessly too small or unfashionable or worn-out. Some things were just things I've let sit on hangers while I pondered what the heck I was thinking when I spent good money on them.

And I get the feeling I could do the same thing again if I pondered a bit more.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Flea Market in France

Today is the opening day of the outdoor flea market in my town. It's dawning bright and beautiful.

So, why am I muttering under my breath and disgustedly watching the rain clouds being chased away by a fresh breeze over the horizon?

Because I am a flea market merchant who believed the weatherman who made all sorts of ominous predictions about the amount of rain that was going to fall on my head today should I have set up my tables.

So I stayed up late, did NOT load my junk (er, merchandise) in my car the night before, and generally luxuriated in my soft bed until nearly eight o'clock: FAR too late to get down to the market and set up properly.

Drat. I really wish I was there. That's how I make my travel money.

Sigh. My dance teacher will be happy as I told her I'd make it to practice this morning if I cancelled my flea market booking due to weather.

But I'd rather be getting rid of all that stuff that's been piling up in my garage all winter, waiting for spring and the flea-market season to begin.

The pictures in this post were taken year before last when I was in Bordeaux, France. It was a day perfect for taking in a flea-market: my spidey-senses led me to one just off a main street: a hot dusty warren of stalls and dirt avenues. The sun baked down on antique furniture, claw-footed bathtubs, hideous French knick-knacks, and sparkling silver and brass bric-a-brac.

Bric-a-brac: that's French for junk.

It was a fabulous market, but the fierce sun soon drove me to a shady park to eat ice-cream and dabble in the fountains.

I didn't buy anything after all at the flea market; the prices made me gasp. It was costly French uppercrust junk (far more pricey than my modest Canadian junk) that wouldn't have fit in my luggage in any case.

But I loved looking anyway. I felt totally at ease there. I imagined myself behind a table here, speaking French and fleecing the tourists who'd go home happy with their exotic French treasures. Win-win. Everybody's happy.

I feel this common tie with flea market/bazaar merchants wherever I go: in Bordeaux and Avignon, in Rome, in Morocco, London, or Kenya.

Yes, all of us flea market merchants, we kindred bric-a-brac sellers...we're all hoping for a sunny day and crowds of people to take home our junk.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jingly Underwear and Related Anxiety

This nature walk is brought to you by the letters "A" (for slight Anxiety) and "B" (for Barely-There Bellydance Costume).

My dance troupe is having a sewing bee next weekend and we'll be starting to make the costumes we'll be wearing at the show in June.

The top part is literally a bra with jangly things sewn onto it. Wonderful sparkly things actually---coins, beads, charms, cowrie shells, and part of an elaborate silver Indian necklace...alas, it's still an alarmingly small amount of material.

I'm accustomed to Indian- style choli tops or ruffled gypsy/peasant blouses when I dance, and I'm feeling like there's going to be a lot more of Spider Girl's skin exposed than I prefer.

The only solution to being comfortable dancing- in- my- underwear (albeit sparkly, jazzed-up underwear) in public that I can see is to whip my l'il tum-tum into the best shape of its life in the next six weeks. I've held a little pep-rally in my head to convince myself it can be done.

Of course it can be done. All one truly needs is an incentive ( an upcoming wedding, or better yet, a high-school reunion) to look deep into oneself and find a really firm resolve to enjoy salad and daily exercise.

And so, a perfect reason to take the photographs in this post-- a brisk evening walk through the trails and foot-paths around the local Air Park (through the forest, along the streams of the Millard-Piercy watershed, along the beach, and past the helicopter hangars), my second hike there this week. It was gorgeous out there.

Plus I've managed to actually make an appearance at the gym and danced two classes this week. So, blog-readers, Operation Proud-in-my-Jingle-Bra begins.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Stephen Harper Eats Babies

Hee hee...

It may be childish, but I must share this news link:

Stephen Harper Eats Babies

Because I think there should be more quoteable quotes like this when it comes to Canadian politicians:

"I worked with Stephen Harper for five years and never once did he, in that time, eat a baby."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Beltane and Cherry Blossoms

Happy Beltane to everybody who celebrates it! And Happy Spring to the rest of y'all!

The cherry blossoms are finally blooming in my garden. The blossoms seem to have opened about a week late, although I'm sure it feels like just the right time to the trees. Usually by the first of May, the blossoms here are already falling and blowing about the streets in great silky puffs of pink petals You can almost set your watch to the flowering trees in this town.

I remember one year, on the evening of the first of May, some dear friends and I collected boxfuls of cherry blossoms from the ground, and took them with us to a meadow with a grove of slim trees in it.

We lit candles and hung them in the trees, made crowns of flowers for our hair, and drank some wine in friendship together.

And then we took handfuls of the soft pink blossoms and threw them up in the air, over ourselves and each other, dancing and laughing.

It was one of those uncanny evenings when it seems as if you've stepped into an otherworldly place, and looking back I can still see the beautiful faces of my friends, looking for all the world like forest nymphs through a rain of pale pink flowers.

Do they remember it like that too I wonder?

In any case, whenever the trees blossom over my garden-bench I think back to my favourite Beltane....

I recently read an article in the local newspaper about the Japanese cherry-blossom festival known as Hanami, which means "flower-viewing". It is a lovely custom: families gather in parks to enjoy the amazing spectacle of the blooming cherry-blossom ( Sakura ) trees. They have picnics and the celebration carries on all day and into the evening with eating and drinking and inevitably karaoke.

I can't help but wish for more North American holidays that celebrate the pure enjoyment of flowers (ARE there any?). I'm so glad that garden-tour season is nearly upon us.

Japanese blossom-viewing locations