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February 24, 2009


Last Friday I got off this little island to go to the big island. No. Not Hawaii. Just Vancouver Island. Victoria to be exact.

Now, I didn't realize until I was actually in downtown Victoria how EXCITED I was to get off the island. I was practically jumping up and down with joy. I almost let out a shriek of ecstasy when I saw THE BAY, a real department store, and that's when I stopped myself to acknowledge that perhaps living on an island was a little more limiting than I'd anticipated especially since my budget doesn't allow for frivolous "want" not "need" purchases at places such as The Bay so really the excitement was rather uncalled for.

Being there felt like freedom. Like I'd just been let out of...school, work, jail... take you're pick. It was like I'd finally let out a breath that I'd been holding in for a very long time.

Nobody here knows me I thought as I walked in the beautiful sunshine down near Bastion Square. I felt a palpable sense of relief about that. I don't have to care about what I look like (not that I do anything differently here that much) except acknowledge that I look like hell when I do. But sometimes, here, because of where I work, I worry about whether I look too rich which is hysterically ridiculous given that I'm completely broke.

When I wear the coat that was my mother's coat, the black one with the fake leopard looking cuffs and collar, I always think, oh no, people might think I'm rich. And, I wouldn't want any of the unemployed people that I work with to think I was rich. Is that absolutely NUTS or what? Like why I should feel guilty because I happen to be EMPLOYED by working in an employment center where everyone who comes in isn't is just too crazy for words.

Instead of wondering which of the three coffee shops I could go to that would have the least possibility of feeling claustrophobic, I could roam freely into places I'd never been knowing that it was highly unlikely to run into anyone who would know me.

I didn't have to wonder if someone was looking at me wondering who I was. I didn't have to care whether I was being friendly or not. I didn't have to care at all. I got to go back - for a brief 8 hours - to not caring what any stranger thought just like I used to in Vancouver and my beloved West End.

Living on an island is a bit like visiting relatives. I've noticed that when I go to Vancouver, I look forward to going and just as forward to getting back here. There's a palpable sense of relief to return to a place that is amazingly easy to live in. It's easy to go out. It's easy to park. It's easy to drive without traffic jams except at night when you have to dodge the deer. It's easy to get everywhere quickly.

Salt Spring is a very social place. It's hard to go anywhere without running into someone you know and I've only been here for 3 months. (No, that's wrong. I've already been here for 5 months! Eeeks!)

I've heard that when people have lived here for years, sometimes they have to plan for at least an hour excursion even if all they want to do is pick up a loaf of bread at the grocery store.

Today, my grocery store excursion was extended by running into the trumpet player in my band and a discussion about why he missed last night's practice. Then, it was interrupted by someone who had come into the employment centre previously but who was now employed at the store. I learned about some of the workings that go on behind the scenes of a grocery store, how those little price tags get changed and where they come from. I learned that it's a high pressure job, getting all those prices just right.

I always knew that I really liked the whole anonymity factor of a big city but somehow that slipped my mind prior to moving here.

Clearly, I could never be famous. Pity!

February 22, 2009

Feverish Fiddling at Fulford

One of the things I like about Salt Spring is that amazingly enough (I don't know how they afford it) there are a lot of young families here.

So, for someone who has no kids but who likes kids, it's great to be around them (for short periods of time).

Last night Karin and I went to a dance at Fulford Hall. It was hosted by a local fiddle teacher, Carolyn Hatch, and she was playing with a lot of her students on stage. So, it was like a square dance.

We had on our cowboy boots and it was a really fun, innocent, family evening. When we walked in it was really quiet. They were taking a break so at first we were a bit apprehensive but once they started playing again and we got into formation, with Carolyn's instructions, it was really fun.

Everybody was up dancing and we were led by Hatch who was doubling as "the caller" and a really cute guy who after Googling him I've discovered is named Calvin Cairns I might just have to take up the fiddle!:-) At one point he played a song that started off really slowly, a bit waltz like and everyone was moving around the room in threes. Then, he'd launch into this wildly fast fiddling at which poit the person in the middle would be weaving there way furiously fast between the partners. There was also another well-known woman playing fiddle, Jaime RT.

So while we were learning the dances do see doing and sashaying and two stepping and switching partners, trying to remember was I the man or the woman, we had a really good time because sometimes your partner would be 7 years old, giggling girls or serious little guys.

That's a lot of exercise. We were sweating. No booze required.

Carolyn and her fiddlers are raising money for a trip to New York. We got there a bit late so we didn't hear why they were going to New York but good luck to them.

There's apparently a lot going on when it comes to fiddling on the Island. Check out Salt Spring fiddleworks.
If you're ever on Salt Spring and have a chance to go to a dance where they're fiddling, it's definitely worth experiencing some of that part of the Island's flavour in person. Wear your cowboy boots. Bring water!

February 17, 2009

Hints of Spring

It was a spectacular morning this morning. Before I went to work, I wandered around the little village of Ganges a bit and managed to snap these photos.

There was a very optimistic feeling in the air. It's like I caught a glimpse of the magic of Salt Spring sprinkled like fairy dust with the sunshine to help us after this long, cold winter remember what it was that attracted us here in the first place.

I walked past the Coast Guard Station and wandered down on the dock to capture the sparkling off the water, those islands in the distance. The yellow wheelbarrow, my favorite photo of the bunch really, because it just so signifies Spring, was sitting outside Mouat's Hardware looking so fantastically supercalafragilistic yellow that I wanted to buy it just to wheel it around.

Then, I walked past Nature's Path, a health food store, and those oranges were just sitting out front and for a split second I imagined that I was in the Yucatan or somewhere tropical.

I love the way the ramp leading down to the dock seems to set off the little white rowboat and the juxtaposition of the Salt Spring Air float plane with the little red, blue and white boat in the water hinting at different modes of water transport.

I hope wherever you are when you read this that you had a spectacular day today as well, one that helped remind you that Spring is just around the corner. Thank God!

Birthday Love

Spent the birthday afternoon sitting out on Pauline's deck soaking up the sun, eating cake and visiting. She'd set her table so nicely for Colleen and I to have lunch and then Hazel (part of my Running Room group from Vancouver) who is the visiting Children's doctor from Costa Rica doing a two-year post-doctoral fellow at Children's in Vancouver decided to spend the Valentine's weekend on Salt Spring with her boyfriend who is from Spain and two friends from Argentina.
It was nice to meet them all and share the chocolate cake with them.
All in all, a nice time on a beautiful day.
Happy Birthday to me!

February 08, 2009

Passions Never Lie

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time with a woman who has made a living doing photography for 20 years.

She's a beautiful person, physically and emotionally. She has a way of speaking in which the words run into each other and somehow by the time she reaches the end of what she wants to communicate in a very stream-of-consciousness manner, it all makes perfect sense, articulate and poetic.

She told me a wonderful story about how when she was young, 21 or 22, her husband and her owned a storefront photography shop. She was doing photography but she hated it because it was nothing like the kind of photography that she'd had in mind. So, one day, really broke, with $4.98 in her pocket she went to the store and she saw the most beautiful Calla lillies. She really had to debate about spending the $4.98 on something as frivolous as flowers but she did. When she went home, she set them up under a skylight and photographed them for hours. She felt really, really guilty "wasting time" on something so "artistic" when they needed money. Her little toddler was yanking at her pantleg while she was taking shot after shot.

To make a long story short, around about the same time she was selling art cards that she'd made by hand. This was in Northern California. A publisher happened to see her cards and as a result of that her photography and the connection with the publisher ended up paying the mortgage for five years.

I really like her and I think I have a lot to learn from her. So, because I have very little to say today, let me share with you the work of these two artists.

While I was at Amy's house, I met this other artist. He's from Korea and as you can see from his website, his ceramic work is magical, precise, fun and creations that will help you dream yourself into your very own personal fairytale.
Meet Amy and Byungjoo

February 03, 2009

Help Wanted: Crazy, Angry People only

When people are creative in the fine arts way - writers, poets, sculptors, painters, actors - they are often forced to take jobs that have nothing to do with what they should be doing.

It doesn't seem to matter how many times they've proven in the past that this is a really bad idea, their courage falters, just for a short time, and somehow they Pretend Not to Know what they Know (A bestseller for sure. See previous blog post!) and Voila, they're sitting behind some desk feeling like a sardine in a suit behind an ergonomically screwed up workstation that will render them old before their time.

Take today for example. Take where I work. I've been really sick for a week. I had to go to the hospital. That's what happens when sardines wear suits acting as contortionists just to see the computer screen at a desk that is ergonomically set up by a quadriplegic or a midget or somebody other than the person who must sit at the desk.

It's like bad interface design. It's all about the equipment, not about the human who has to sit at and use the equipment. The phone's practically on the floor because the cord is only 3 feet long. The chair's three-foot arms are as wide as those on Lazy Boys from The Brick. As a result you can't get any closer to your computer monitor than passengers in an airport trying to read the Arrival and Departure Screens. Give me some binoculars so I can input the data because the data is everything.

The laptop is a laptop when it should be a desktop. You try to put the laptop on the yellow pages to prop it up but the laptop tips over backwards because it's too heavy because it's probably 12 years old. It was the prototype for some equipment that normally only gets used in operating rooms from 1952.

Picture Frankenstein at a desk. Arms stretched out in front of him. Fingers moving and still a few millimetres short of reaching the keyboard. I like to think of it as office golf. Move your body into the most uncomfortable position, turn the flourescent lights up to maximum velocity and then open the door to let the angry, crazy people in.

The door has an alarm that is connected to cameras to protect us from the crazy, angry people who have convened on this idyllic setting making you wonder how they got so crazy and angry.

So, every time one of those crazy, angry people walks in the door, we get to hear about it as if a car has just driven up to get gas. (I'm getting hysterical. Is it showing?)

And by the way, as an aside, I had to go to a massage therapist yesterday and she informed me that I'm just getting used to the "energy" here. Did I know that Salt Spring is actually, according to the Dalai Lama when he flew over [in a plane I hope] situated on a huge crystal bed and there are only a handful of those in the world. That's why it's special. Some people can't handle it here and have to leave. Maybe you've seized up because you aren't yet able to integrate the energy from here she says. No, I think the energy from here is just fine. It's the energy walking in the door that's in need of the Dalai Lama.

Today, one of those crazy people was some friggin little 17 year old guy who thinks he's king shit. Come in darling. I've been expecting you. You are what I refer to as a Gayle Mavor specialty.

He's walking towards me. I say Hi. He looks at me like I'm in HIS living room and he doesn't know how I got there. He's got that swagger that says, "stings like a butterfly floats like a bee" or whatever the hell that saying is.

There's this static around him, it's noise and at first I can't quite figure out where it's coming from. Like some 80 year old high school teacher, my nose in the air, looking around confused I say, what? What is that? What is that noise? Where is that noise coming from? Is that your music? I say, not hiding my indignance and getting a picture in my head that's so much a caricature of some grey-hair old lady squinting and wheezing with indignance I almost laugh out loud at myself.

Please turn off your music I say to him at which point he has a little melt down. You're supposed to be here to "FN" help me he says and walks out the door.

And, right at that second I had a little fantasy. I saw myself grabbing his IPod shuffle or whatever the hell it was, taking the strings, ripping them out of his ears, throwing it violently on the floor, jumping up and down on it and breaking it into a million little pieces.

We get the people walking in who say I need a resume. Did they think to write anything down? Do they know where they've worked previously? Do they know when? Of course not because they've just had so many lousy jobs. Go figure?

Now think about that way of being and what it takes to be that way. Like I'll just walk up to a stranger and say I need a resume as if they have been my little guardian angel put on the planet for my use only. They would have to know every aspect of my life's history and in the snap of a finger like Sabrina on Bewitched they will surely produce a "Save me from myself because I'm too stupid for my cat" RESUME!

Then, we get the single, older male flirts who are lonely so they have to come in every day to talk to us and tease us and look at our tits and they have worn the same pair of pants for the last 3 months with no laundry room in site, apparently but hey, yes, we would find them desirable wouldn't we? I mean why wouldn't we?They're male. Isn't that enough? Don't pretend Not to Know what You Know I say to them in my mind and MY GOD that statement is useful isn't it?

When people are creative in the fine arts way - writers, poets, sculptors, painters, actors - they are often forced to take jobs that have nothing to do with what they should be doing.

The Meaning of Magical Meetings

About a week or so ago when I was returning to my safe, quiet, little island from Vancouver,I decided that I would just take a ferry to Swartz Bay and then turn around and take the 30-minute ferry from Swartz Bay back to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring. It's what people do when they live on Salt Spring to work around the fact that there are very few NON STOP sailings from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour at any time of day that makes sense.

If I leave at 2 pm I think to myself all naively, I'll be home in time for dinner. Fifteen minutes onto the boat,sitting looking out the window at Tsawwassen and suddenly there's an announcement.

"This is the captain speaking. I need to inform you that there is a small car fire on the car deck. Please be sure to follow the directions of the crew and I will get back to you with more information."

I'm sitting there thinking does he mean there's a small car on fire or there's a small fire as a result of a big car because hey, one is much worse than the other.

My next thought is oh no, it better not be beside MY car. I left MY computer in MY car. When you're poor, out of necessity, you become quite self centered. I don't care what happens to the 565 other cars on the boat just as long as mine remains intact.

Next announcement. This is the captain. I'm asking everyone to move to the forward lounge.

I start walking toward the lounge and after about 10 minutes of standing there I think to myself, I'm getting the hell out of here.

I decide it would be better to be out on the deck. So, that's where I go. Sure enough. Next annoucement?

"We are evacuating the ship. Please wait for the announcement and then vacate the ship from the forward lounge. Please enter into lounge four and five at the terminal and remain there. Thank you."

Everyone files out in an orderly manner and suddenly, like cattle, we are all crammed into the waiting area watching as smoke is billowing out of the left side of the ferry.

I sit down. I'm there for a bit. Suddenly a woman sits down beside me. I say something negative like, "I wonder how long this is going to take?" at which point she says, "Sometimes these delays have a way of turning out magical."

Magical? Did she just say magical? I think to myself. What mushrooms did she have in her omellette this morning I wonder to myself. I bet she's headed to where I'm going I think to myself.

Magical is not a word that a lot of people use anymore and it's a pity really because if you want to catch someone's attention just try slipping the "M" word into your conversation.

The next time someone asks you the requisite, "How are you?" you could take a big, theatrical inhalation and on the exhale, you could swing one arm across your body in a flamboyant The Price is Right kind of way, look to the heavens and in a breathy voice say, "I'm Magical, Just Magical!"

Then stand back, keep a straight face and see what they have to say about that.

So, when this woman said that, I got "that feeling" the one I get sometimes when I meet someone as if there's a little arrow above their head that's flashing on and off as if to say to me, pay attention to this one. Not from here. Maybe reincarnated. Has "The Secret". Celestine Prophecy in action. Taken over by The Mind of the Soul. Delivering a "message from the masters". You know. THAT kind of feeling.

We start talking and somehow she tells me she's writing/written a book. The book is called Stop Pretending You Don't Know What You Know. I love that title. I tell her that that book is going to be a best seller and she sits quietly, as if she already knows that to be true. Think about it. Stop Pretending That You Don't Know What you Know!

Stop pretending that you don't already know that you are gay! Stop pretending that your husband still loves you! Stop pretending that you're ever going to be any different! Stop pretending that you're going to write a book. Stop pretending that you're not fat! Stop pretending that you're nicer than you are. Stop pretending that you don't feel superior to every other person on the planet. Stop pretending that you really give a shit! And on and on and on it goes.

Try it. Add up your own list. Insert it here and repeat after me, all together now, on behalf of this woman. Stand up. Yell it out! All together: Stop Pretending that You Don't Know what you Know!

Anyway, back in the ferry waiting lounge where someone has now thrown up and about 10people have accidentally walked in it, we talk for a bit. She doesn't really tell me much about it as if I'm going to steal the premise and write it in a week or two before she gets it published.

Finally, I say to her, What's your name? She says my name is Gael!
"What" I said, not quite believing that she said her name was Gael.
Gael she says again more definitely.

That's MY name I say. MY name is Gayle. "AYL" I say. "AEL" she says back to me.

Now, is it just me or out of 900 people crammed into a little terminal waiting area, what is the chance that the woman who chooses to sit beside me has exactly the same name as mine.

Well, not exactly the SAME NAME as a very witty friend pointed out. Imagine if her LAST name was the same as yours? "You met a fairy on the ferry" she said. It's like a fairy tale. You start off in reality and suddenly, as your day progresses everyone you meet turns into some little person of the forest, spirit of the mountain or Matilda of the mist.

Okay, okay. But, you have to admit. Her and I - meeting - like that...