Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ring the bells and break out the beer

I've broken the 100 followers barrier!  Hey, it's a big deal to me. Thank you, one and all.

Whoo hoo. Let's head for the cold room for beer.

You can grab one of the following (I happened to see all of these last weekend):

From a local brewery on the east coast of Canada.

I was there to attend my daughter's first solo art exhibit. I can't show you all her paintings due to copyright issues, but I can show you a couple of them. The first painting is the one she used as a poster for her show. I thought at first it was an old photo, like a collage, but no, she painted the whole thing, including the cool background design that looks like wallpaper.

The second one explains why she insisted she had to buy a taxidermied magpie from the UK on eBay. It was a tough sell for her father, until he saw the painting. When you give birth to an artist, you must accept the wild and weird which follow. They really make life interesting, in the very best sense. If you are willing to accept a house full of dead stuffed birds.

It was a stellar night, lots of people came to the opening (including her older sister who flew in for the night.)  I was even asked to be part of the exhibit. I was instructed to give "mom hugs" to everyone who came to the exhibit. Conscious of my role as a Gallery Installation, I eschewed the whisky I bought for the occasion because I didn't think it would go over well to have some random, florid, boozy woman flinging her arms around students. Only when the crowds thinned did I allow myself a wee dram, and it was at that moment my daughter's professor showed up. I don't know if you've ever smelled whisky on someone's breath, but one sip makes you smell like a distillery with a leaky cask. I apologized and hugged him anyway. I'm hoping I didn't just consign my daughter to a D-.

Only one fellow refused a hug. The rest of the attendees, well, some were uneasy with the whole idea. Once they were persuaded to just "lean into the weird" (to quote the Bloggess) I could feel their bodies relax as they gave into it. Others - mostly young girls away from home, but some boys too - welcomed it and ran at me with open arms, some even getting a bit weepy and admitting it made them miss their own moms back home. Some asked for extra hugs goodbye when they left, saying it was a particularly rough time at school so they needed one badly. Some confessed quietly it had been a long time since anyone had hugged them, even their parents. They seemed shocked at how good it felt. I get emotional just thinking about it, actually. So I hugged, and rubbed backs, and whispered "there, there, you're okay, everything is going to be okay" until it was time to go.

We laughed, we cried, we ordered hotdogs and milkshakes and listened to the jukebox in one of the best, original diners in Canada:

We tried to find Peter Mansbridge, who was staying in our inn (he's the top news anchor in Canada) but no luck. All in all, a great weekend. I'm just hoping they stay high and dry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

City Walk #482

Yesterday I ducked out to buy a few groceries, having been away at the Surrey International Writers' Conference for five days.

What, you thought my husband would have replenished the fridge? He lives on salad and whatever he can find in the fridge that is ready made (jars of pickles, cheese, cold cuts, maple syrup, beer...) When I met him, the only thing in his kitchen was a stack of empty pizza boxes as tall as me. I? As tall as I? It was a 5'4" stack of empty pizza boxes.  And in his fridge were a couple of boxes of alfalfa sprouts and a container of cream cheese. What did he concoct with these ingredients, I can hear you asking. Peanut butter, cream cheese and alfalfa sprout sandwiches on a bagel. I know this because he offered me one during our first night together. It's a credit to his other qualities that I decided to marry him. As I recall, that night we ordered pizza around 3 a.m. and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but that's a whole other post.

And I digress.

(However, I might add he comes by the weird food honestly. His father, now in his late 80s, once offered me a peanut butter and onion sandwich, the onions sliced thick like chunks of apple. The alternative, besides starving to death, was peanut butter and relish or peanut butter and onions sandwiched between leftover pancakes.)

Okay, no more digressing. Scout's Honour.

I love this grocery store which caters to downtown tenants, so it's a mix of ethnic (pretty much every country represented) and health food (due to the number of students and artists) all crammed into a tiny space. I love it because there is nothing worse to me than wandering around a giant grocery store down aisles carrying thousands of varieties of cereals or cookies when all I want to do is buy some veggies and nuts and schlep them home.

Damn, I just digressed again. (However, from the news reports, Scout's Honour doesn't carry much weight these days.)

Outside the grocery store, I noticed a pile of seeds all along the outside of the building. Some stupid tenant in the apartment building next door had clearly laid these out for the birds. I suspect there was some stiff competition from the city rats, pigeons and squirrels (or as I like to call them, ugly rats, flying rats and city rats with fancy clothes) but I thought no more of it until I got to the checkout and pulled my wallet out of my leather backpack.

As I struggled to put away my credit card quickly and fill my portable grocery cart for the walk home (Do Not Judge Me. In the city, these portable grocery carts are used by everyone, not just little old ladies. How else are we city dwellers supposed to lug home heavy stuff like milk, potatoes, and MacCallan 12?* And I bought my cart in an artist's store, for carrying art supplies, and what is cooler than an artist? Never mind that I bought it for my daughter who looked at me like I'd suggested she wear panties on her head and dance Gangnam style down Sherbrooke Street.)

Where was I?

Being glared at by the lineup at the cashier, casually bumped in the ankles by the cart behind me, which is code for move your ass and fiddle with your bag outside.

This is when I noticed my hand covered with what looked like, but did not smell like, chocolate.

Upon closer examination, I saw that a bird, most likely a Flying City Rat, had shat on my bag. If shitting on handbags were an Olympic event, this pigeon would have a gold medal. It managed, even though flying by at 30 mph (they have been clocked at 58 mph, though average speed is around 30) to accurately hit not only my bag, but INSIDE the pocket, a gap less than 1/2 inch wide. It splattered my lovely satin lining, my comb, my fan (Menopausal 101 - carry a fan at all times) and my brand new SiWC pen!  I wiped up as best I could, because it also splattered my one and only Kleenex.

By the time I got home, I was calmer until I pulled my keys out of my bag, conveniently clipped to a lanyard, and tossed them over my hair and around my neck, as a matter of habit.

I remembered, too late, that the keys had also been stored in the Outside Pocket of Bird Shite.

There are many things I love about living in the city. Pigeons are not one of them.

*While the MacCallan 12 is a lovely, everyday go-to single malt, the MacCallan 18 is to die for, or at least, killing your best friend with a skillet to the head and running off with her bottle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back from the SiWC

Oh, it's always tough to go back in to real life after attending the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It's a handful of days so intensely full of experiences that I come home simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated. Right now, I'm still firmly entrenched in the zombie phase.

Coffee is not helping. A box of Purdy's is taking the edge off, but I'm running dangerously low. Dangerously low.

Must breach apartment ramparts and try fresh air as treatment.

Not convinced it will work.

No food. Growing weak.

Notice self using short, grammatically challenged sentences.

No willpower or desire to change.


Some of the highlights include the keynote address by author JJ Lee. I was inspired to buy his book THE MEASURE OF A MAN the second his keynote wrapped up because I knew the bookfair would run out, which it did. Donald Maass, one of New York's top agents, said he did the same thing! Yes, JJ's speech was that good, in fact, Don said over a drink in the bar that he thought it was "the best speech" he'd ever heard. We all agreed. There were hundreds of us in floods of tears.

Robert J. Sawyer was his usual self. He speaks so quickly and eloquently that it's like getting two workshops in one. He's a giant brain with legs, so interesting, so challenging...

Diana Gabaldon...Jack Whyte...Michael Slade...Anne Perry...so many great talents under one roof. And if you like humour, check out Eileen Cook. She is a riot, and her books are laugh out loud funny. I remember snorting through UNPREDICTABLE. I was lucky to share a lunch table with her and she is a delight. Her shoes were pretty awesome too. I gave them 10 out of 10 on the cool factor. If I could have figured out a way to mug her and run away with them, I would have.

And then there was Shelley, in the Magic Room (the club room, but it is a magic room to be sure.) We had nice chats in the morning as she waited for her daughter to go into labour, which finally happened at midnight on the day I left. She shared another story with me, which I will share with you another day soon.

Must. Wake. Up.

The whisky and conversations deep into the night with like-minded people (i.e., those who talk to their imaginary friends as though it's the most natural thing in the world, which it is) seemed like such a good idea at the time. Now real life intrudes.

My new monster hat and matching snake mittens, purchased at Vancouver Airport to ease the transition back into real life

Which reminds me of this failed experiment in crochet. Damn, that is virgin alpaca, too. Cost more than a small car.
*by the way, some people have mentioned some spam that seems to have originated from this blog. I have spoken to Blogger about this, but they said there is nothing they can do about random spammers getting addresses and using them to send junk. I am thinking of switching to WordPress, so maybe it is time. Will you follow me there? Please say yes. I'd be pretty lonely without you.

Monday, October 15, 2012


When one door of happiness closes, 
another opens;
but often 
we look so long 
at the closed door
that we do not see
 the one
which has been

~Helen Keller

Speaking of doors, I'd love to know what the story is on this place.

I came across it on one of my walks.

It's on a bit of a slope, and it's a small door in the middle of a large stone wall. 

One of these days, I'm going to knock and find out who is on the other side.

I'm guessing they're nice guys.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012