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June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson Reactions Say More About You

I wasn't going to say it but I can't help myself. Michael Jackson. Why is it so impossible for so many people to not recognize that first he was human, second he was famous and as someone else described "the greatest and slowest train wreck in human history."

When people say things like, Good, he's dead. I hope he committed suicide, somehow I feel like they've just told me almost everything I need to know about them. I can't imagine saying that about anyone who happens to be famous and there are a few people who would be excellent contenders if I was so inclined. But Michael Jackson wouldn't have been one of them in my mind.

When someone has such a vehement reaction all I hear is a more generalized lack of compassion. If they think that about Michael Jackson, imagine what they think of people they don't like who they actualy know.

There's this overriding tendency towards condemnation of behaviour they don't understand. I expect they are not typically someone who would ever understand the phrase... walk a mile in someone else's mocassins. It's the vehemence, condemnation of someone they've never even met in person that really feels like an assault to me somehow when it gets spit with vehemence and disgust out of their holier than thou lips.

I think you can tell a lot about someone by the way they react to the death of someone famous. The fact that apparently some fans have committed suicide in the world as a reaction to his death is just as twisted as those people who "hate" through their judgement of him.

I never thought that I'd be "defending" Michael Jackson and the "love fest" that has erupted now that he's dead is just too unbelievable given the disdain towards him before he died, but somehow, in spite of the charges in recent years, (which by the way he was found not guilty of as far as I can tell), I truly believe he was innocent in his way of being in a way that none of us can understand and I say that with full awareness that many pedophiles believe that they are doing children a favour, loving them, showing them how to love. I'm not talking about that because I don't believe Michael Jackson fits into that category.

I don't know why I believe it. I've never met him. I was relatively indifferent to his celebrity. I saw all the TV stuff. But, somehow I can imagine based on the images I saw, and even the last documentary that this person whose life was unimaginable to every one of us, was fragile and innocent. Innocence can refer to a state of unknowing, where one's experience is lesser, in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. Thanks Wikipedia for that definition.

Could it be that cynicism and mistrust has annihiliated our collective innocence so completely that his way of being was incomprehensible to us.

Hitler was evil. Michael Jackson was not.


When I saw this scene as I wandered through Duck Creek Park last night I couldn't help think of the summer I spent in Finland.

The Kuisma's had a cottage about 1.5 hours from their small flat in Lahti. We would spend most of the summer out there and shortly after arriving we helped the local farmer with haying, except the haying was done by hand. A tractor would put a long pointed post into the ground, men would make sure it was in properly and then the rest of us would take our pitch forks, and keep piling hay over top until instead of the perfectly round ball above, the hay would be in a more oblong shape, pointed at top. Man, that was hard work. And, that was when I was in pretty good shape.

We got up early and by lunch time the women of the farm would have made a huge meal, a Sunday dinner type of meal with meat and potatoes and Finnish food that I can not now even recall. I remember the long wooden table was outside and feeling the comradarie even though they were all speaking Finnish and laughing and every once in a while making some effort to include me in the conversation by smiling and nodding in my direction.

It's isolating not being able to speak the language of the country you're in. It's an exercise in patience and observation. Maybe we should think of that the next time we meet someone in Canada who can't speak English because they are a new immigrant.

This photo announces Summer, although I'm a week late. Happy Summer!

June 28, 2009

Neglected Angel

Out for a walk/scramble with Gail and Michael on their 14 acres and at the end as we joined up with a road called Old Divide, this tiny, neglected little fountain was tucked up against a fence. I liked it. I've cropped it here to zoom in on the face and the patina.

June 27, 2009

Smile! Photo Ops Abound

The bloom came off the rose a little today. Is that the right saying when you lose a little bit of enthusiasm for something you couldn't get enough of? Like when the honeymoon is over. When the third date is past. (that's a joke, sort of!) When the probation period of your job is over.

Or after 3 months of dragging yourself out of bed at 6:00 am on Saturday mornings so you could go to the Salt Spring Market and attempt to make a whopping $65 on your best day selling photographs.

The anticipation was over the top from vendors. The World is coming. The World is coming. It felt a bit like the sky is falling. People came out of the woodwork. People who don't even normally show up but must have accumulated 9 years worth of points from previous market attendance were there. The end result? Mutiny on the grass.

When all the spots filled up and there was still a crowd of vendors hoping to get a spot some people, desperate and disrespectful people I might editorialize, took it upon themselves to think rules, what rules, and set up their tents, booths, etc. wherever they felt they could.

When Karin and I decided that we would rather not be there with that kind of energy, and I returned for a little something for breakfast, one RCMP, one CRD by-law enforcement officer and infamous Driftwood photographer Derrick Lundy was trying to cajole them to stand back to back for a photo op.

Somehow, the magic associated with the market that I've held all these years as a tourist was shot to hell today in less than a couple of hours.

And, if that wasn't enough, when I was walking along the sidewalk after my breakfast, some guy's dog backed up out of the bushes and while taking a shit (the dog, not the guy) managed to get some of the last remnants on my left shoe. I was just about to lose it when the guy looking at his dog said, "Hey buddy, are you okay?" Is the friggin dog okay? What about my god damned shoe? It's a good thing these aren't Manolo Blahniks or he would have had one angry red head to contend with and we wouldn't want that would we? But, I said nothing. How could I get upset? The guy didn't even notice that some of his dog's crap hit my shoe and after the fact, I did see the humour in it.

Welcome to a little Gulf Island paradise! (And it isn't even truly summer yet really!) What hell will break loose in August? I spent the late afternoon having a nap recovering from all the excitement.

Moving on to a more positive note, what today did allow me to do is walk around and see what else is being sold out there and you know what I discovered even more than I already suspected? Everyone and their diahrrea-infected dog is selling some sort of photos. I just figured that out. Now, I have faith that my photos are good but so are quite a few (read a thousand or so) other people's. Go figure?

So, after all that, I headed over to ArtSpring to check out the Photo Lumiere exhibit and really enjoyed the "seeing" of six island professional photographers: Eric Onasick, Janet Dwyer, Gillean Proctor, Steven Friedman, Birgit Freybe Bateman and Osman Phillips.

Nothing I could say to describe their individual seeing would sound anything but trite in comparison to their images and now I have to try and say something intelligent and insightful about that for an article just to top off all the "fun" this weekend.

Luckily Charles is having a party tonight and I'm late...

June 26, 2009

The World off Salt Spring

A much bigger boat than the one above is scheduled to be docked off Beddis Beach this weekend and Ganges is abuzz. The market vendors are anticipating increased sales or at least wondering if it will make a noticeable difference.

The cruise ship does nothing but sail around the world to live up to its name, The World. I'll do my best to make a trek to Beddis Beach some time this weekend - Sunday perhaps - to get a glimpse of the thing. Happy Weekend!

(Later...As coincidence would have it, it turns out that my "Vancouver correspondent" George Charlton snapped this photo of the ship bound for Salt Spring out of Vancouver this afternoon). Thanks George.

June 24, 2009

Local By Design

I work beside a really interesting little shop in Ganges called Sweet Somethings owned by a couple originally from Toronto, via Galiano and now Salt Spring.

They seem really nice. Every day they change the saying on their sign out front the shop. The other day it said, "PSST? Who let you out of the house wearing that?" "We weren't the inspiration for that one were we?" I asked them the other day referring to my co-worker and I since her and I tend to shop at Transitions which is a thrift store with profits going to Gulf Island women affected by violence (which I personally think is much too passive a statement) given that it makes it sound as if they just happened to have an accident or something. They need someone to re-write their tagline me thinks. But, I digress.

Back at Sweet Somethings, Amber Churchill designs the jewellery and a lot of other really cool little items. It's a bit like having a taste of Vancouver's Main Street with its small boutiques right here because it holds the work of a lot of Canadian designers.

They're being featured in a small article in July's Aqua magazine and I got to take the photos. It wasn't until I was in there really "looking" that I realized what a wealth of variety there was in there, much of it made by Amber herself.

June 22, 2009

Devouring Vancouver

I can't imagine why I have a weight problem when I re-read what I'm about to describe.

When it comes to returning to Vancouver it's pretty much a visiting/eating fest. I've waddled over to my computer (did you miss me?) to give you an update.

Let's start at the favorite Punjabi restaurant of Colleen and Gayle which is the hole in the wall Original Tandoori King on 65th and Fraser. A few years back (add 5 years given my inability to measure time), we took a course through UBC Continuing Studies where all we did was try all the major Indian restaurants in Vancouver and learn about the culture from South to North.

The instructor was fabulous and at 40 (after a life of spinsterhood I say only partly in jest), she managed to pick up an Indian specimen in less than a month on a trip to India. I often think of her and wonder how that all turned out. She might have scored him in a month but she had to wait at least a year to get him into the country legally. He was from small town in the Punjab. I think he was a principal. She was an activist. We ended the course in her family's large kitchen getting instructions (hand gestures) from her mom who couldn't speak English while we tried to make round, not square, Chapatis.

Don't make a mistake and go to the one on Fraser. The original is around the corner. Looks like hell. Food is good. Service is a little too efficient lately. Just ignore her says Colleen about the waitress who won't leave us alone every five minutes. How long have you known me I think when she says that.

On the way to the doctor the next day grabbed lunch at Thai Away Home on Cambie. Must have been dehydrated since I drank more water in 5 minutes than I usually do in 2 days. Was feeling lightheaded from traffic and a visit to Winners. Intense.

Thursday evening I fit in a visit to Gwen to see the unique view from her newly purchased North Burnaby apartment. I've never seen down the inlet all the way past the Lion's Gate looking from North Burnaby. We ate at what must be an iconic stop called Xcite near Willingdon on Hastings. They may have named it that to describe how you begin to feel when the waitress forgets your order. Food was decent. Service was kitty-cat-like which in translation means do whatever the hell you like, Morris couldn't care a less. Get it?

Slept in on Friday morning until 8:40 am (even though I was on the couch and Ms. Eaton was blowdrying her hair close by in preparation for work). Since I had to return her key anyway, might as well meet for lunch. How about Phat in Yaletown? We like it there. Scored a table on the patio when it miraculously cleared out around 12:40 pm. Is the Glowbal patio a few doors down always that packed? Forgot to make a visit to Marimekko to remind myself of my Finnish excursion from 28 years ago. Everyone looks so unSalt Spring like down there. Rich. Well coiffed. Really expensive eyeglasses. No dreadlocks in sight. Those clothes didn't come from the Thrift store and if they did, it was intentional.

Later in the day arrived at Anne and Bob's new place overlooking the Creek almost directly across from the Olympic Village. That neighborhood down by the Roundhouse Community Centre is so amazingly livable. Especially I should add if you have a spare $600,000 minimum or you're not afraid to sleep on a park bench. Then, it too can be yours.

They treated me to a new experience at the French Cultural center on West 6th off South Granville. I can't say enough about the quality of the food at Salade de Fruits Cafe. The french waiter was really cute too! And everything sounds so much better when it's said in either French, Spanish or Italian.

It's always exciting to be introduced to a restaurant you've never been to that's really great. Woke up Saturday morning, and took little Charlie (their dog) for a walk. Returned to home made Granola at their kitchen table watching as the Dragon Boats lined up for the first race of the Dragon Boat festival. Then, we parted ways after a really nice visit. They headed to Victoria and a granddaughter's debut singing performance (she's 6) and I headed out to Surrey.

I was intent on taking my Dad to the Crescent Beach Bistro only to discover that it's not open on Saturday afternoons. We have had some really good meals there together on previous trips. Really disappointed. He was looking forward to oysters. Instead went to the worst fish and chip place I've ever been to. No. Not on purpose. Washed that horrible waste of money down with ice cream. Felt really bad about the lunch. Happy Father's Day.

Travelled back into New West which had the best restaurant of all. It's called the John Family Gourmet Hideaway. Renowned Chef? Peggy John. So incredibly generous that she's open on my behalf to hosting people she's never even met. Carol and Butch arrived in their black Jag. Really? Really? Are you kidding me? Great chicken. Steak. Skewered veggies. Great company. Met up with the blue-eyed pugilist again.

He's weighing in at 10 pounds. The sun hat I bought that matched two new outfits covered his entire face and head. Geez. Grow already buddy. He's such a cute baby that two out of three confirmed baby-phobic adults - Carol and I - picked him up, held him and smiled big smiles as he took it all in without freaking out.

Lisa was there as his escort (coincidentally she's also his favourite restaurant). We haven't tried the liquid lunches he's very partial to. Packaging is still an issue.

After the best pancake and strawberry breakfast courtesy of Chef John, and some friendly banter, spectatoring (is that a word?) of the weekly scrabble game, I packed up and managed to squeeze in a quick visit with niece Meghan who has traded Maple Ridge for "The Drive". She was getting ready to drive herself insane with some Ikea instructions. Seemed like a good time to visit Calabria for a coffee break. So we did.

Headed to my old "hood" and dropped in on Dee. Met the infamous LL, chum chum, main squeeze Don. Nice guy. We left him and met up with Narida the storytelling Aussie, whom we originally met 3 days after her arrival in Canada 3 years ago when we were (where else?) at a restaurant celebrating something and she sat beside us which was mere inches away, almost in our laps anyway.

We walked along my favorite Coal Harbour seawall and headed up to the viewing level of the new Trade and Convention Centre. Very impressive. On the way back we ducked into the Westin Bayshore to go to the Seaside Lounge. We like it there. It's never very busy. Lime Margarita please. Would you look at that it's raining. Remember rain? Narida regaled us with highlights from the East Indian comedian Russell Peters after attending his show at GM place some time earlier in the month. Wow. Just go if you get a chance ever. Tell him Narida sent you. Don't show up late. Don't sit in the first 5 rows. Don't take it personally.

Still had a couple of hours before the 9:30 ferry. Still couldn't connect with Beth and Neil. Called George and Keiko. Meet me at Banana Leaf for dinner I said. George, get out of your bathrobe already. Tear yourself away from the telescope. Devoured the Gado, Gado. Nasi Goreng. Roti Canai.

Drove to the ferry. Actually refrained from eating anything. Are you proud of me?

Damn ferry was an hour late. Picture blackness, shiny black water and the lights from the yacht club sparkling, the wake the only sound. Arrived back at 12:30 am.

Happy to be here, even if there's too many damned white people and too few curries. Blessed be me.

June 15, 2009

In the Light, Happiness

In the light, happiness.
Golden and steady,
shining natural beauty
outside in.

I went for a walk tonight in Duck Creek Park. I hadn't been there for a couple of months and the light was spectacular. The grasses were freshly cut and the evening sun glinted the gold from the straw like fluorescence. If every sad person could be there for just 10 minutes surely their mood would shift, even if just a little.

I watched furtively from the taller grasses as I had to take a pee and noticed the robins, stalking, the hay their sea.

I inspected the Ford tractor and heard a car stop. A boy yelled, "Dad" and then a car door slammed. I walked to the road but there was no one there. Just a deer grazing, further down Sunset drive.
One thought crossed my mind. Why had it taken me so long to find where I belong?

June 14, 2009

What's Your Bucket List?

Is the sky really the limit? Or, is there more?

I don't know about you but every once in a while I'll get this little flash that I can only describe as a wake-up call to remind me that this isn't going to last forever with "this" being my life. And, right after, this feeling rises, a bitter sweet insight: wistful.

I watched my mom take her last breath, like a quick shallow inhalation that lead to nothing and instantly knew when she was gone at the moment it happened.

Someone has said that the best way to live is to write your own obituary. Figure out what you'd want it to say and then spend the rest of your life making it so.

I haven't seen that 2007 film The Bucket List but I think it's a pretty good idea, even though I'm not a big LIST person.

Strangely enough I feel like I've reached a point where it's time to start a new list because I feel like I need some new goals. Everything just seems pretty good right now so not only do I not have much to say, report, nor any pithy insights, I don't even know what I want to do next.

Most of my list would probably have something to do with seeing some other places in the world but even that right now isn't a big priority for me.

Is that what it means to be content? Is being happy just to be where you are, doing what you're doing the definition of contentment? Maybe?

If anyone has any thoughts on what would be on the top of their "bucket list" feel free to share them. Inspire us.

June 11, 2009

What's Luck Got to Do With It?

For quite some time now I've intentionally tried to refrain from saying "Good Luck".

While I do believe that timing and chance often intervene in scenarious so they turn out advantageous, more often than not, it's all the background work that took place (alone, in silence) that actually had more to do with positive outcomes.

After working part-time at the employment centre for the past seven months, I've learned a lot (just from experiencing my interactions with the people who come in) about what to do/not to do next time I'm in need of job. And, let's face it, nothing I say here will be new or earthshattering. But, we so often forget what most of us already know when it comes to looking for work.

1. First impressions, whether at a formal interview or the first time you're walking into a place, are mostly about body language and energy first, then words. What that means is, if you've got a personal problem, you're incredibly depressed, or you're angry, unfortunately, a forced smile won't hide that energy. Fix that first.

2. A sense of entitlement is an instant turn-off. Quiet confidence isn't.

3. It's all about the employer. It's not about you. Your financial stability/instability is not an employers responsibility or priority. That's the way it works. If you can't accept what an employer wants before you even get hired, don't go there.

4. Keeping in continuous contact with those who can help you find work is not a bother, it's a necessity so that they will remember you and think of you when a job becomes available. You might think you're being bothersome but you're not. People who work with a lot of people see a lot of people every day in addition to all the other tasks they must perform. If you're not interacting with them weekly, unless there's something really amazing or weird or annoying about you, they won't remember you even if you think they should.

5. Asking for feedback is positive. Today, a guy with a Masters in Social Work and expertise in post traumatic stress, individual and group counselling, divorce mediation and years of experience asked for my advice and he actually listened. Recognize that styles in resumes and ways of looking for work change ever so slightly and getting feedback is almost always a good way to check in and discover whether what you're doing is as current as it could be and sells your skills to the highest degree.

6. Be friendly and go out of your way to carry on a conversation with the person you need to interact with in any office, especially those that may help get you work.

7. Share your personal experience to the fullest extent. The most common useless information I receive is "I'll do anything. I just need a job." I always want to say in response, Will you be a hooker? Will you join the Canadian army? Want to clean outhouses? Point made. Often hobbies and participation in associations can link you to a position that otherwise you would never have been matched with so being as specific and detailed about your experience, paid and non paid, and what you want and don't want is critical.

8. Be open to giving EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt at least once.

9. Good manners never went out of style. Some people just never had them in the first place. A thank you, when someone went out of their way to help you, especially written in the form of a card, goes way further than you might imagine.

10. It's said that actors are only as good as their last performances. It's kind of the same for employment. What you USED to do, and how much money you USED to make as in past tense can sometimes be irrelevant especially when you have chosen to live in an environment such as Salt Spring where the options (for regular work) are limited. Accept the employment reality of the environment you find yourself in at the moment or move.

11. Think about your future and aim so much higher. One of the things that pains me the most in this job is meeting young people who have not graduated from high school. That's not a crime. That's fixable. But what is much harder to fix is a complete lack of motivation, curiosity, desire to better oneself, a consciousness about the significance of learning. Every time I meet someone who currently lacks all of those things, I fear for them and especially for their children because often they have babies.

12. Passion and enthusiasm, not money, are the most important things in a job search. There's always going to be another lousy job that pays next to no money, especially if you have no education, no skills, no training.

13. Do some research and find out whether there are options through the government for funding the training you want. Those usually require you to be attached to Employment Insurance within the last 3 years but it's better to ask and get the facts than to assume the negative.

14. And always the most important...Just stop, get quiet and check in on that internal wise sage to see how you're feeling about the people you've met and the duties described to really cover your bases in determining whether it's a good choice or not.

June 10, 2009

Raven Street Dishes Delish

Went to Fernwood Dock last night. The water was perfectly calm. It was so quiet. An eagle was perched on the top of one of the evergreens on the beach. An otter was playing by itself not that far from the dock and you could hear its splashing. It was heaven.

Later, I went to Raven Street Cafe for dinner. The salad was made of greens picked that day from their back garden with generous amounts of smoked salmon on top decorated with three edible nastursiams that had a peppery bite to them and topped off by their home-made miso dressing. Yum! The food seems to be getting better here as long as you know where to go and where not to go! I'd give it a 7/10. They need some classical music or light jazz. Sometimes they have live music. Ran into Harry Burton and his wife of Appleluscious.

June 08, 2009

High Maintenance Yoga anyone?

-this photo has nothing to do with this story - except his shoes do stand out don't they?

Quite consistently when I lived in the West End of Vancouver, around the first couple of years I lived there I would go to Yoga. There was/is this fantastic teacher at the West End Community Center named Sandra Leigh.

Sandra is in her late 30s (well actually, god forbid, she might be 40 by now). She was initially trained at the Ashram in the Kootenays and she is one of those people who continually learns and adds to her knowledge. She teaches Dru yoga, and combines Hatha and Kundulini and restorative yoga with spiritual teachings and sound throughout the 1.5 hour class.

Hers are the best yoga classes I've ever been to because of her way of being and how she shares her extensive knowledge throughout the class. She also works at Banyen Books in the Yoga section and she started a thing on Friday nights called Give Peace a Chant. In short, she's FABULOUS.

In the entire time I went to her classes, not one person would be doing something other than what she was working on. I'm not sure she would have even allowed that (but in a nice way).

I've only been to yoga a couple times here on Salt Spring but I just find it so strange/annoying that inevitably there are always one or two of THOSE people in the class who might as well be doing yoga in their own living room, not in a class because they are in their own little world. If they were in a marching band, they'd be marching sideways while everyone else was trying to move forward.

I always say to myself when I see them. Oh, here we go. Welcome to Prima Donna Yoga. Welcome to High Maintenance yoga. Welcome to I can't afford therapy so I thought I'd try Yoga. Now, I know. I know what you're thinking. Why does this bother me? What's it to me? What does it say about me that it bothers me at all? I've asked myself that and here's the answer. Ready?

They're a pain in the ass and they bug me!

So yesterday I go to Yoga. And sure enough there's not one but 2 of 'em. One's a guy. He's pretty much doing his own thing throughout the whole class. Lying on his mat on his back with his eyes closed. At first I thought he was one of those homeless-by-choice "park people" who just needed a quiet place to lay down.

The other one has body language that screams bitchy, pouty, victim louder than well, a bitchy, pouty victim. She comes over to the woman behind me and goes, Do you need the corner? The woman looks at her. "I need the corner" she says "because I have to do an inverse double whammy transverse, downward dog, Sun Salutation levetation" or whatever the hell she said.

Then she starts dragging over enough crap for a weekend camping trip. She's got the two folding chairs, a bolster, blocks of every kind, a blanket. Pretty much the only thing she's missing is the buntzen burner to heat up her Soy milk for after the class.

At some point I have to ask her something and she just stares at me, not an ounce of warmth in her victim-tired eyes. So, I just turn around and pretend she's not there. Maybe she's just come back from a silent retreat but she's forgotten that she can actually talk now I think to myself. Just as well.

Is this just a Salt Spring phenomenon I wonder or does it happen elsewhere?

June 06, 2009

Merci Pauline!

This is the infamous Pauline.

Baker. Gardener. Mother. Garage Sale hunter. Animal lover. Amateur Ornithologist. Chef. Sailor. Interior decorator. Flute player. Shopaholic. All round wheeler-dealer and a thousand other things I haven't even learned about yet.

The other day she called me early in the morning to ask me if I wanted her to bring me lunch. What are you supposed to say to that? Well, if you're me, you put out the feeble, perfunctory, "You don't have to do that" and then very quickly you add, "but if you want to". I mean who am I to deprive you of the pleasure of giving. Sure. Come on down.

So, come noon, I leave the office and walk the 4 minutes over to the boardwalk at the dock. I see her coming down the dock. She's all dressed up in a beautiful summer outfit that accents her blue eyes as if she's meeting like an important date or something. Are you going somewhere? I asked.

We walk over to the bench. I sit down like I'm royalty. She opens her large bag and begins to whip out the delicacies. But, first the tablecloth. Must put the tablecloth down on the bench. Wouldn't want to get our pretty frock dirty. It's a sweltering 30 degrees or at least it feels like it.

Do you like homemade lemonade? she asks as she whips out a tupperware jug. Do I like home-made lemonade? With real cut-lemons floating on THE top I note.

She then takes out the wraps. She carefully unwraps something that she just whipped up. It has a special name. It's full of flax bread and 8 eggs (my heart skips a beat - literally), artichokes, tomatoes and it's delicious. It's a 2 inch high quiche-like thing with a fancy french name that of course I can't remember.

We sit and eat and chat and watch a search and rescue helicopter flying low as if it's looking for someone or practising.

Because I only get a quick 30 minutes, soon it's time for the finale. Would you like some coconut cheesecake she says as she whips the top off another plastic container. Are you trying to kill me? I ask, seriously. It's like a Jim Croce song, "Killing me softly..." Cheesecake. So smooth. With delicate, coconut strands on top.

That's Pauline. She'd had the garden club around the day before and had made enough food for the US embassy in France. I got the leftovers which are, lets face it, 110%more succulent and mouthwatering than almost everything I've ever made in my entire life.

Anyway, there is just something so fantastic about having someone look after you in the way Pauline looks after me and I think she knows how much I appreciate it. But, in case she doesn't, I do. It's fantastic. I love it. You are so giving and loving. How did I get so lucky to have you come into my life? Thank you. If I wasn't too old to have a first born, I'd want you to be its grandma-ma. Merci and Kiitos and Thank you in every language there is. You`re a rugged individualist, one of a kind and I`m so glad you live here and that I`ve gotten to know you.

June 05, 2009

Day Tripping Close to Home

Had a really lovely day off. I went with a friend to Duncan and Cowichan Bay. He would probably sue me if I put his photo on the blog which, of course, makes it ever so tempting but I shall refrain. Apparently he doesn't realize that having your photo on my blog is a form of respect, reverance, affection or in very rare cases, (I can only think of one), ridicule. Just depends who you are! Privacy? Shmivacy!

He took me to this beautiful little bistro in Duncan that's definitely worth a visit. We sat out in the courtyard and had this fantastic white wine, perfect for the day from a local vineyard called Vignetti Zanatta The quiche, salad and chocolate mousse were all very tasty. I may have met a co-chocaholic and I don't even want to think of the danger of that. A double-decadence enabler.

We puttered around Duncan's great little old downtown which has a lot of artsy shops and then drove out to Cowichan Bay. I'd never been there. It's so CUTE! I loved it. There's even a Maritime Center, which is a museum of the history and boats with little shops/restaurants along the water. They're having a wooden boat festival on the weekend of June 26-28 and I LOVE wooden boats. It's definitely worth a trip. I want to go back.

Driving along a back road to the Crofton ferry on the way back to Salt Spring, past rolling green hills, old barns, lush greenery, fields with equestrian jumps made me realize why so many people dream about living on Vancouver Island, or, um, Salt Spring!

June 04, 2009

Backyard Bounty

Had Karen over for dinner last night. It felt like August. She brought this wonderful cold potato and leek soup that was delicious. We drank Zinfandel and had a 3 course meal pieced together from our collective fridges. We sat out on the back deck, chatted up a storm and took in the lusciousness of the beautiful back yard paradise.

That clematis climbing up that old tree stump is spectacular now and the photo above really doesn't do it justice.

What's really amazing to me is that last year some time I took a photo of a beautiful bush in Stanley Park that had vibrant mauve/blue flowers. I loved that photo but I've never known what that type of bush it was.

Now that the yard is in bloom, it turns out that my most favorite bush is right outside my back door!!!!! I couldn't believe it. How? As if someone is giving me it as a gift. How is it possible that my favorite tree is right outside my door which I didn't know when I moved in here because not until the last week has it bloomed. Crazy, wonderful!

PS: I found out later today that the shrub/bush/tree I'm referring to is called California Lilac or Ceanothus.

June 03, 2009

Transplanting Africa to Salt Spring

I spent most of my morning working on a resume of a man from Zimbabwe. He's a musician. His late father was a famous musician from Zimbabwe who was noted for taking music of a traditional African instrument (the mbira) and bringing that music to the U.S.

This is a young guy, late 20s/early 30s, met his wife, who is Canadian, in Zimbabwe because she was working on a special project through a group on Salt Spring called SOLID. They were due to have their first baby about a week ago.

He has worked with street youth and is the founder of a cultural center in Zimbabwe that is focused on sustainable development, cultural appreciation and celebration, and teaching and learning.

I've met him once before and he has the most peaceful energy but of course he has no certification related to community development and I can only imagine how challenging it is for him to try and carve out a life here, on this island although he does sometimes travel related to his music. It just seems like SFU's Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program or restorative justice which used to be offered through the Justice Institute of BC might be a good path.

He does do gigs as a musician and speaking and teaching and storytelling, and has a lot of knowledge about natural building practices such as the use of Cobb but it's a bit mind boggling to think of how challenging it must be to arrive in Canada from Africa, be on this little island and try to figure out how you're going to make it work.

As soon as he walked away from me the day before after hearing about his background I couldn't help but think that he would be the perfect candidate to do something like restorative justice work because he's worked with a lot of community groups doing a lot of exercises that typically take place in circles.

I thought about native culture and how traditionally there would be a lot of similarities between it and the African culture that is so dear to him and its ways steeped in tradition and storytelling and music.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to learn about him today and it felt good to help him out a little.

June 02, 2009

The Blue Factor

I've never kept a journal consistently but I have, usually when things are not going so well, or when I feel that I need to be a little more enlightened as to how lucky I am, I write stuff down.

Sometimes I do the whole gratitude thing and that really does have an almost instantaneous effect on shifting my vision towards the positive.

I'll write things down because I'm thinking perhaps if I write it down the confusion I have around something will be more clear in print and at the time it usually never is. But, going back months and years later, its message is often a neon sign.

The best thing about writing things down in a designated space (preferably a journal, not a telephone pole) is that it's a constant reminder that life is change and that can take away fear related to change and lead to active changes being made.

Last year about this time, I was living on Robson Street and after six months, I could not seem to find work. It didn't make any sense. I have the experience in Communications. I have excellent references, etc. etc. The thing is, every time I thought about doing communications, I had this sinking feeling. Been there. Done That. And, I was becoming very depressed after not being depressed for quite a few years in what has been a re-occurring, most challenging theme in my life as a result of a mood disorder that mainly gets expressed as depression.

I had a great group of friends. I loved living on Robson Street a mere block from Stanley Park. But, inside, there was this niggling, sinking, murmur, as if I'd forgotten something. It was constantly there but I couldn't figure out what it was. It was like an urging to do - something - but I didn't know what it was. I did know, even voiced it out loud, that whatever it was required more than just "getting a job" to get rid of it.

Call it mid-life crisis, call it what happens when change is necessary, call it your soul's expression tickling you from the inside out, but it's a reminder that when that inner compass is pointing North and you insist on persisting in the same direction that you've been going, it's the jumping off point and you need to take it to SWIM.

It's like doing a canon ball in the middle of some fancy pool party.

I thought about that this morning for some reason. I thought about how much has changed in the past year and how so many of the unvoiced desires that were muddled in my head last June have somehow come into being now because they were there and so was the intent to unearth them.