Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Scavenger Hunt...and more Party Pics

Two hours.
Five teams.
Competing for prizes unknown.
And knowing ahead of time that bribing the judge with peach snapple is perfectly acceptable...

It was Kim and Shawn's Amazing Tenth Anniversary Scavenger Hunt!

I met the people on my team ten minutes before we started the game. It was only fair to pair the locals with the incoming party guests. I mean, how are people from out of town going to know how and where to re-enact a scene from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off otherwise?

As my team members were from the next province, I had to be navigator. We leapt into their red sports car and were off!

We needed to find...a lot of stuff. There were four pages of things to find and do. And having a digital camera along was entirely necessary: how else are you going to prove that you made a K or an S with your body lying on the grass like in Sesame Street?Would the judge take our word for it? Heh, unlikely! :)

Unfortunately I had to give my own camera to Jeff as there were only so many cameras to go around. Blast it! Me giving up my camera is difficult. I'm snap-happy, you see. So hopefully Shawn's relatives will email me some photos of our quests as I'd really like to see how our recreation of spotting a sea monster turned out, or the picture of us on the borrowed motorcycle.

You know what I like about missions like these is that it gives you a sort of tacit permission to do things like run breathlessly up to total strangers and ask to sit on their motorcycles. If they raise their eyebrows, just show them your paper that tells them its worth five hundred points and they will hopefully break into a big grin.

If there's something goofy out there that you want to do (roll down a hill, eat fruit off a tree without using your hands), consider the freedom of saying its for a contest/scavenger hunt...

A Partial List: (and things were allowed a lot of creative interpretation fortunately)

*A banana with signature of person who sold it to you (150 points)

*Evidence of extraterrestrial life (200 points)

*Receipt for 25 cents worth of gasoline (300 points)

*Photo of a baby cuter than Zoe (anyone who does this loses 500 points)

*Paint a picture of Cumberland in the style of Emily Carr (500 points)

*Build and fly a kite (1500 points)

* Photo of group in a coal mine (400 points)

*Translate into Klingon: Where is the bathroom (500 points)

*Snow (2000 points)

*Photo of group with police officer (350 points)

*Recreate a famous movie scene with animals (450 points)

*Draw a chalk masterpiece on a sidewalk

*Wear sunscreen (100 points)

*Photo of group swim (500 points)

*Group photo with Comox Glacier in background (200 points)

*Penny from 1996, the year Kim and Shawn were married (150 points)

* Completed Sudoku puzzle (100 points)

*Photo of group member holding up a video of Hollywood movie filmed in the Comox Valley (200 points)

* List of ingredients for beschemal sauce (150 points)

* Build a fort out of driftwood (450 points)

Yes, we had to call upon all our inner resources to cheat a little, er, bend the truth as it were, and argue our cases in front of the judge when we arrived panting back at the finish line.

My team didn't win but we still accumulated over fifteen thousand points (including a bribe of a pig's ear for Loki the Dog) in the allotted time and won ourselves brilliantly kitschy and evilly-grinning tiki-lounge punch glasses which I used the whole evening afterwards with pride.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Kim's Party

A friend commented that these last two weeks have been like something out of "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

I can't say that I remember the film very well, but I think what she meant to say was that despite the sadness of Jamie's funeral, there has been a lot of fun and joy too. Life and love is sweet. Laugh with the people you love.

For instance, there was Kim and Shawn's party! My friends have been married for ten years and they threw a marvellous anniversary party this weekend.

Ah, amore!

Note to self: it just isn't a party without tiki torches in the garden and a bubble-machine shaped like a red hippopotamus on the roof of the house!

There were barbeques loaded down with roasting corn and salmon. Loads of other food and drink. Heaps of relatives and friends milling around in conversation or relaxing under the shade of the heavily-laden pear tree--it felt like there was about forty people there, but people were arriving and leaving all day, visiting while they could.

Oh! it was a good party! Be proud of those party-organizing skills you have, my friends!

The decorative flags we'd made two nights before waved in the breeze most satisfactorily on the proceedings from the edges of Kim's backyard.

There was a tented pavilion hung with tapestries and layered in cushions where friends could sprawl, a jamming session with drums, live accordion music, amorous cavorting dogs, children dancing in the clouds of bubbles drifting over the lawn, and presents of course.

We held a bocce ball tournament in the park down the street--the guests who stayed in the back yard could hear our competitive whooping yells from where they were.

(There was also a wild scavenger hunt mid-morning to break the ice between the locals and the out-of-towners who had never met but I've decided it deserves a whole post of its own. It certainly got the blood racing as we dashed about town raising eye-brows as we went.)

It was one of those parties that starts in the morning with good-natured craziness and drifts lazily into late evening conversation. Someone deciding to say goodbye at ten o'clock would still be drawing out the farewell an hour later, having moved perhaps from the front porch to the back.

Friday, August 25, 2006


My good friend's little brother has died, and it is just so wrong.

He was young, just thirty-one, newly-married and had just found out a few days before that he was going to become a father. Nobody knows why he died. The tests after his death showed a young man in apparent perfect health.

The universe seems mean sometimes and frighteningly arbitrary.

I was on holiday last week and had all sorts of fun times, but coming home to this sad news, it seemed wrong to write about all that until I'd said something about this.

So here is the poem my friend read out to remember his brother at the funeral. It pretty much says it all.

W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Drunken Bards

Shakespeare is a drunken savage with some imagination whose plays please only in London and Canada.

--Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

There was at least one drunken bard roaming about in Tai's neighbourhood last night. Perhaps two or more.

I opened my eyes blearily at five minutes past three this morning and listened to the rich baritone voices echoing theatrically off the nearby eaves. The owners of the voices were quite obviously sodden with drink but nonetheless great long Shakespearean passages tumbled easily from their lips.

I reflected that if you had to have drunken people shouting in the streets below, it is better if they shout poetry rather than epithets, although of course the works of Shakespeare contain plenty of those too.

My friend had also woken up. "It's Hamlet", she said sleepily. "It's Hamlet talking to Ophelia...."

I didn't recognize the passage but continued to listen, hovering on the edge of sleep.

Then I heard in booming stage-tones something to the effect of : "Behold! A stone in my hand! shalt I throw it?"

I leapt out of bed and hurried to the window. I had no idea if that was a quote from Shakespeare but they better not be standing near my car if they were considering in verse whether or not to heave rocks at my car!

Alas, I couldn't see them. Whoever it was, they were invisibly projecting their voices mightily through the still summer air. I wondered briefly if they were stumbling about in doublet and hose, and then fell back to sleep.

Actually I'm off to the Shakespeare Festival this evening. But it started well and early for me today. Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday to me! :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Shrew..and Two Degrees of Separation from MacGyver

These first few weeks in August have felt to me like they're all about about going to the theatre.

First there was CATS, and then I attended both productions of this year's Showcase Festival and I'm looking forward to travelling to Vancouver this coming up weekend to visit this summer's Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vanier Park. I am well on my way to being a culture vulture. :)

Tickets to A Midsummer Night's Dream make a fabulous birthday present!

So anyway, Jeff, my clever sweetie, volunteered his accounting skills and was this year's book-keeper/payroll guy for the Showcase Festival.

Consequently, we were able to score some free tickets to go and see both the Taming of the Shrew and its modern counterpart, Cole Porter's Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate .

I enjoyed these performances sooo much.

I tell you, I'd probably make a lousy theater critic, because everything I attend just seems so well done.

Maybe you could ask fellow blogger Ian for a second opinion, as I said hello to him on both nights. One night he was sitting in the row in front of me, the next he was in the row behind me. Anyway, Ian's our local reporter and he planned on writing up a review in the local Echo newspaper.

The pictures here are from the first night's performance of Taming of the Shrew .

If you are not familiar with the story, it is the unpolitically- correct tale of the shrewish scolding Katerina and how she must be married off before her simpering but far more popular younger sister Bianca can be married.

Bianca's frustrated suitors join forces to plan how they can woo Bianca and find a husband for her brawling elder sister. The solution arrives in the form of Petruchio, an optimistic and money-grubbing man who seems unconcerned how shrewish his potential wife may be as long as she is wealthy. By the play's end, the fearsome Katerina has been married, bested and worn down by Petruchio's husbandly tactics which include depriving her of sleep and food. In the end, she seems okay with the whole thing.

Sounds rather depressing, doesn't it? But a little Shakespearean slapstick goes a long way to lighten the mood and the actors interpret their roles wonderfully.

I remind myself that the plot took place in the ethics of Shakespearean times, and laugh despite myself at the antics on stage.

However, I agreed fully with the woman behind me who muttered to her husband at play's end: "Don't be getting any ideas from this, Brett...."

Jeff and I were invited to attend the Meet the Cast party after the performance on Friday night and so we met all the main actors, including to my delight, Neil Minor, the fellow who played Puck in last year's Festival.

I also met Teryl Rothery (who played Kate the Shrew) who is apparently broadening her acting credits in our little town after playing in the show Stargate SG-1 in her role as Dr. Janet Fraiser. I almost didn't recognize her off-stage as the onstage Kate was larger-than-life with big red hair and this was a petite little blonde person. Plus, although I've watched Stargate a few times, I was usually noticing Richard Dean Andersen and not Ms. Rothery.

She seemed very nice. As I shook her hand and chatted politely, I reflected that I could now also claim two degrees of separation from Richard Dean Andersen (also starring in Stargate) who was the MacGyver of my childhood. Reason enough to attend the party, free drinks aside! :)

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Isn't it funny how you can reconnect with people from your past? They can be closer than you know.

I talked with my brother on the phone this evening and in the course of our conversation he mentioned that a group of his friends and casual aquaintances from high school (seventeen years ago) had met for a casual reunion the other day.

It seems someone had run into someone else at the Filberg Festival, said "Man, I haven't seen you guys in ages" and suggested a get-together.

My brother commented how a lot of people at the reunion seemed to know me (or know of me) and the general concensus was that I was really nice. (Heh, though I can't imagine they'd say anything to the contrary if they really thought I was a vicious meanie).

One fellow at the party mentioned that he had married someone I knew long ago. And that someone was my friend Denise who lived down the street from me when I was about eight years old.

It seems we are once again living down the street from one another twenty-five years later.
I can look out my kitchen window and see her house, two doors down on the opposite of the street.

I couldn't help myself. I went and knocked on her door this evening. It was great. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coffins as Interior Design... and More

Floating Bed Don't sleep on this one if you have a lot of piercings. Or if you have a lot of dust-bunnies. But really, if you have one of these in your bedroom, you're just trying to go that extra mile for weirdness's sake, right?

Playhouses for the Silver-Spooned Set In hindsight, it seems my childhood was much deprived. My playhouse was made of twigs.

Coffin Furniture Coffins. They're not just for lying around in anymore. Actually, I've long thought that for the amount of money you pay for a coffin, you should really try to get some use out of it beforehand.

I rather liked the carry-on luggage on this site. But alas, I fear it may be just a little pretentious and maybe it's not such a good idea to single yourself out in airports in these strange days.

Spirit of the West and a Grand Picnic

I think one of the definitions of a good morning is sitting in the dappled shade of a tree, closing your eyes and swaying slightly as you listen to Celtic folk-punk band Spirit of the West play If Venice is Sinking.

It's one of my favourite songs and there is nothing quite like the energy of an outdoor concert.

Jeff and Kim and Zoe and me went back to the Filberg Festival for a second time two days after our first visit, this time bringing Shawn along.

Paying the ten dollar entrance fee twice is absolutely justified to hear live music like this. They are quite simply great.

And their musicians hail from Vancouver and Victoria, making them locals, which is even better!

I'd never heard them live before, although Kim has drunk apple-juice with the band before at some point in her life. Yes, apple-juice.

I love their version of Home for a Rest,that ultimate binge-beer-drinking ballad, and the crowd roared along to the chorus of that ex-pat favourite Old Sod , the old sod being Scotland,and not some elderly drunk as the lead singer pointed out:

There's none more Scots than the Scots abroad
There's a place in our hearts for the Old Sod!

"Och, that was magic!", one of the musicians declared as the audience led one chorus on our own.

Ah, and let's hear it for penny-whistle and accordion soloists!

After the concert, the four of us and baby Zoe wandered the Festival grounds for a while. We were mostly shopped out (ie. we are poor), so we didn't make the local artisans much richer today, but we did find a great spot for a picnic on a shady hill where we could eat our spanakopita and Greek salads and donairs while looking down on the white tents of the Festival and the water and mountains beyond.

Shawn and I wandered along the edge of the herb garden there, taking photos of bees and butterflies.

Oh, and there was gelato involved somewhere along the way.

Och, a grand day!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Trolls I Have Seen this Weekend

Here I embrace my inner geek and present this picture of myself as Zalli the Troll, my World of Warcraft character.

She has red eyes, big red hair, and blue-green skin. In Azeroth, it's quite a fetching combination. Don'tcha think?

I spent a good part of the weekend at the local Filberg Festival and happened to run into some other kinds of trolls there.

They had rather larger noses than the trolls I fancy and were lumpier in general. Also, the trolls in WoW tend to carry a honkin' big weapon of some description and these trolls tended more to carrying parasols and playing the bodhran drum.

Hmmm...actually much more up my alley in some respects! :)

When these trolls walked by some children crumpled their little faces in distress and bawled.

But not our Zoe!

Nope, Zoe the Baby got a good hold of one of their noses and didn't want to let go.

*Spider Girl experiences a little surge of vicarious pride through her friend Kim's brave daughter*

Other potentially frightening things for children at the Filberg this weekend: marionettes that look like the musicians from KISS and AC/DC .

I also saw some Yoda puppets and two little kids duking it out with Darth Vader marionettes. They were shrieking "Die! Die!"

I'm guessing the trolls woudn't faze those youngsters one little bit.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Spandex Bodysuits and T.S. Eliot

The poet T.S. Eliot once commented that the works of Irish dramatist and write Bernard Shaw were much improved once set to music.

I wonder if he'd share a similar opinion about the musical CATS , based on his own Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats . Whatever else he might think, one imagines that Mr. Eliot couldn't help but goggle at all the flying fur and psychedelic spandex bodysuits.

The local Rainbow Youth Theatre showed off their version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS this week and I went Friday night. It was a sold-out show.

I have to say right up front that I'm a sucker for musicals. I'm not looking for sophistication necessarily. I just want to be merrily entertained . And I was.

CATS is light on plot, but big on energy, acrobatics, and well-crafted dance choreography. In a nutshell, an enormous number cats are gathering under the moonlight for the annual Jellicle Ball . The set resembles a sort of junkyard with culverts and ramps and ledges.

The Jellicle Cats await the arrival of their beloved leader Old Deuteronomy who will name one cat worthy of journey to the Heaviside Layer , there to begin a different Jellicle life. It's a little sketchy, but one is left to presume that this is a good thing, as the cats vie with one another to introduce themselves and their individual merits.

We meet Skimbleshanks, Gus the Theatre Cat,Mr. Mistoffelees, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, Grizzabella the elderly Glamour Cat and a host of other felines. At times there were fifty dancers cavorting on stage. There were magic tricks, a kidnapping, a pirate ship, and catburglars. Also, there were a few people I knew up there on stage and I think that always adds an element of fondness for a show.

There was ballet, tap-dancing, cat-suited people leaping down from dreadfully high stage-props and all sorts of back-flips across the stage. And I'm still catching myself humming that one about MagicalMarvellous Mister Mistoffelees two days later.

My mom leaned over during the performance and whispered that this was sure to be a musical my friend Tai, a girl notoriously skeptical of the merits of musicals, would enjoy. Well, I might not go so far as to recommend it to Tai, but it did have pirates, well, er, cat-pirates....so you never know.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Linda on Stage (and Going Into Battle)

I had a conversation with my friend Linda this evening and realized I hadn't seen or talked to her since the beginning of July when she belly-danced on stage at the local Canada Day celebrations.

How does this happen? How does the summer fly by like that?

Anyway, since it's much easier to give my friend the photos I took of her via my blog rather than clogging up her mailbox with vast photo attachments, I'm just going to post them so everybody can enjoy them too.

Keep in mind, Linda ,that I was sitting halfway to the back of the theatre and I couldn't use a flash, but I hope you enjoy them. You looked smashing!

Linda has both an amazing book collection and a vast wardrobe of bellydance and medieval-reenactment costumes that I am very happy to borrow upon occasion, as well as yards and yards of gorgeous fabrics, scarves, and veils... so my thoughts and best wishes are with her tonight as she goes into battle against an invasion of silverfish in her new home. I don't want to sound bloodthirsty and unkind to small creatures, but in this case: Kill 'em all!

Those little pests are a book-lover's nightmare. They like to eat the starch from book-bindings (yum!) and wreak all sorts of havoc with fabrics too. They are a nightmare to eradicate.

I know. I suffered an invasion myself once in the old house on England Ave.

I was trying to remember how we got rid of them and wondered aloud to Jeff. "I think we just moved, didn't we?" was the reply. Oh dear.

I remember they were so quick that you could seldom get a good look at them--just a squiggling flash of movement. And they left sort of a nasty dusty, flaky residue wherever they had been lurking.

Ugh. I'm not squeamish about insects, but these little guys have all the charm of fleas and tsetse flies in my book.

Anyway, Linda, you are perfectly correct: you can get rid of them by micro-waving your books! Who knew?! (Not that I doubted you, dearie....) :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sounds of Summer

The adult Ten-Lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decimlineata) emerges from its shallow pupal chamber around the roots of its host plants sometime in the month of July.

Before it has much chance to enjoy the next stage in its life-cycle, it flies dangerously close to the front patio of Spider Girl's home where it is batted out of the air with phenomenal accuracy by a fat cat called Colby, brought inside, and crunched between feline jaws with gusto.

These insects sometimes put up a fight and can hiss quite loudly I've discovered. I rescued one of the more survival-oriented from Colby and the wee bug waved its feelers ungratefully at me and produced a sound I've come to associate with Fear Factor and its mascot bug, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

I released the fortunate insect out the front door, but my cat merely ran upstairs again, out onto the deck and swatted down another june beetle.

This last week I've found close to ten dessicated little striped bug corpses around the house. As I fall asleep I hear:

WHACK! Bzzzzzzz! Some scrabbling around. Then Hiss! Hiss! Crunching sounds. Then silence. For a while.

To see her lying in the sun, you wouldn't think she'd have the speed and reflexes to take a bug down out of the air with such stunning accuracy in the dark. I'm impressed.