Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bunkle need a new hat...

Yes, that time has come...

I knew when I bought the Bunkle that the roof needed replacing. Much to my amazement, it withstood an extremely windy, rainy winter very well (maybe because I was lying awake in bed praying to the roof gods during each storm), but I don't feel like more worries this winter, so I've started getting quotes. Ouch. Really. Part of the issue is that there are three layers of shingles (original cedar then two layers of composite) that have to be removed, board has to be installed, etc etc. I need new gutters, too. Whee.
So - looks like we will be in the $10,000 - $13,000 range. So - I'd like to make this into a fundraising blog - donations to the Give the Bunkle a New Hat campaign gratefully received.... ;-) Seriously, it's funny how money somehow becomes slightly ...meaningless... when you deal with house repairs. You just learn to suck it up and move on somehow.

One of the outstanding issues is what to do with the 'awning' over the back door, pictured above. It was obviously an afterthought when it was built - but fits in with the generally poorly thought out additions on the back of the place (which have given the place it's name, if you hadn't guessed). It is rotting, and pretty much could be removed it I gave it a good yank. My gut call is to just get rid of it, but I have no idea what else I'm going to put up in its place. I thought about redoing the roof line a bit at that edge to hang over the door, but I'm not so sure. One day I suspect I will extend the house out slightly at the back, so i don't want to invest a bunch into something that will likely be changed in the not impossibly distant future. Ideas? Anyone? Please??!

And here is a picture of my fully-berried mountain ash ....which is what you see when you're on the back deck.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Navigating the zombies...

My weirdly thwarted-at-every-corner day yesterday ended on a high note thankfully. My brother and I ventured to Vancouver's netherworld to see Dan Mangan at a new place called The Chapel. On the corner of Dunlevy & Cordova, The Chapel sits pretty much smack in the middle of Vancouver's drug addled/homeless/crack-whore riddled heart. I had tried to get tickets earlier in the day to no avail, so we decided to get there a bit before doors opened to line up ... and quickly made the decision that standing around really wasn't an we hid in the jeep a couple of blocks away. It really is a pretty sad sight down there now - people really do look like zombies, moving along their uneven, jerky, stiff, sightless paths to who knows where. The city's addicted/homeless/disenfranchised problem grows and grows - but that is an entirely different, far more depressing blog than I want this to I will temporarily put that thought/issue on the back burner (and I know, in doing so, aren't I just acting like everyone else? Sigh...) Anyway, scooting fast from our parked car (and in front of the car that one particularly drug addled woman had just been invited to slide into) we quickly made our way to the doors.

The Chapel is an old funeral home that has been renovated into a really nice gallery/music space. I really hope it makes it - Vancouver doesn't really have "listening rooms" for live music, and that is what this place is. It holds about 150, and last night it was completely packed, and much to my delight for most of the evening the group was QUIET. Really quiet. Pin drop quiet. So quiet that I would invite them to my club when I open it.

There were a couple of opening acts - James Lamb & the Liabilities, and Said the Whale. Both were good, but James Lamb was the attention grabber - some nice songwriting, great harmonies, and the no-fail combo of cello and accordion. Dan Mangan played solo, and was great. It was a label release party for the rerelease of his album Postcards & Daydreaming (which by the way has been on high rotation on my mp3 player for months), and I really hope it gets some attention. I know he has been touring internationally, and as per usual is getting more attention abroad than here. He's got all the components - strong songwriting, a unique voice, good stage presence and a unique but accessible sound. And he's only 24. Keep your eyes and ears out for him, he's worth a listen (or for something non-acoustic and less likely to make your eyes tear up, try this).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An embarassment of riches

It was all music, all the time this weekend. Think I have recovered - unfortunately.

Friday night was The Polyphonic Spree. Just the kind of think I like - more people than should be packed on the stage at any one time (24 I believe...) and all playing full tilt, a rich assault of vocals mixed with more instruments than you can count, and an intense, near evangelical energy. And great outfits to boot.

Saturday and Sunday were spend at Jericho Beach Park for the 30th Vancouver Folk Fest. It's one of my favorite things. I've been to a lot of folk fests in Ontario, and loved all of them - but Vancouver's is remarkable both for it's size and for it's accessibility. 40 minutes and I'm there. How great is that. And the beauty of the setting is second to none. The first shot here is of the evening stage (about 10,000 people are on site at that point), just as the sun is going down. Doesn't really capture it but oh well.

The evening concerts are great, but it is the daytime workshop stages I love. The crowds are small, the artists are interesting - it's all good. I went with my FF companion of the last two years, A. (shown relaxing below), and we spend a couple of lazy, hot days taking our chairs from stage to stage depending on what's going on where. We know it well enough now that you know what the flavour of each stage is going to be (stage 2 for instance is "the Folk Fest Nazi stage" because it is sheltered under trees, and comfortable site that attracts those intolerant both to sun and to many other things. Lord knows I'm intolerant of audience behaviour, but these guys make me look amateur). Navigating the fest is a bit of a skill, but we've got it down now.

Anyway, it's a great place to get exposed to new music, and a great place to see musicians really playing - in the true sense of the word. It is also the perfect place to meet that really hairy, bearded, impossibly thin man of indeterminate age wearing a pair of overalls - and nothing else. Or to make friends with one of the many, many lesbian couples. And their children. Or the transgendered. Or young men that wear sarongs. Or bells on their feet. Or both. Or to see interpretive dancing. I know, I know, I sound judgemental. And I shouldn't be - with our matching lawn chairs and cowboy hats, A. and I are pretty good targets ourselves I'm sure. But my 'observations' come with an incredible amount of affection, trust me - it's what makes the fest the fest and I wouldn't change a thing. OK, might make the overall wearing guy put on underwear. Or a shirt.

Couple of artists I quite liked - Rae Spoon, a self described transgendered banjo player raised by evangelists in the prairies (now THAT's gotta be an easy life). He also plays with a guy called Rodney Decroo in a band calls The Trucker's Memorial
Great sense of humour (highlighted by Rae's comment that they thought of calling their album Amber Alert ...take a look at the picture of the two of them and you'll figure out why), and a great 'old country' voice.

Totally different kind of artist also caught my attention this time, though I've seen her before - Ndidi Onukwulu - young bluesy singer from Toronto with a pretty elfin face that kind of reminds me of my youngest niece, which may be part of her appeal for me, who knows....anyway, take a listen, or a look, and enjoy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The new arrival...

She may be small now, but we're hoping for 8 feet tall by the time she grows up.

Feelin' hot...

HOT this week - one day saw a high of 37C (no humidity thankfully) which needless to say is a little more than most Vancouverites are comfortable with. I just kept remembering my trip back to TO recently, where the temperature was about 38C and very humid, and tried to accept that really the heat we are seeing just isn't that bad. I should add that I didn't see the cats at all during the day yesterday - they spent their time in the cool basement room (aka my closet), which conveniently has a 'cat walkway' down one side and under the window. They were both flopped out when I came down to take this, but sir Thom woke up. Judging by this picture he only has two legs.

Lots of work has been done on the Bunkle this week and I hope to have some snaps soon - my super handy pal J and his super sexy new mitre saw came to visit one evening (on the hottest day I might add) and we got baseboards and door trim installed in the red den - woohoo! Have also spent the better part of three days getting the garden into some semblance of order. A lawn's worth of sod was removed from the front flowerbeds by my nephew, and I am hoping to go get some plants today. Feels good to start working on the exterior after so many months of concentrating on getting the interior semi-livable. Progress!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This is the face..

...of a cat that has just suffered the indignity of a (brace yourself...) rectal exam. And I might add he went through it without a peep, kick, howl...his eyes may have gotten a bit wider, but with Thomas it is hard to tell.

I should add that the vet's attendant was giving him a kiss on the forehead at the same time. God knows what the poor cat thought was happening - are they skewering me then planning to eat me head first?...

And please, no crude comments about how some people would pay for that kind of treatment.

So - next time you or someone you know is whining about the possibility of having a doctor's digit ... inserted....just remember, think about your size/size of a finger, and a cats size/size of a finger...if a cat can take it without complaining....

(and for those curious why Thomas had to go through that - let's just say he is having a few "issues down there" - hopefully nothing much, keep your fingers crossed)

Monday, July 09, 2007

If you ever need to find music for my...., funeral, coronation, make sure it is something by Michael Nyman.

My favorite is Fish Beach, which I have linked below - one of many great moments from the Drowning by Numbers soundtrack. I always thought it was called "sheep 'n tides" because it is the music I associate with the game - which is explained below...

"Sheep and Tides - Nine sheep are tethered to stakes, (next to chairs on which teacups are placed) beside the sea, and bets are laid on the combined sensitivity of any line of three sheep - read vertically, horizontally or diagonally - being the first to react to the exact moment of the tide turn. The sheep sudden movement jolts the chairs, pulls on the stakes and rattles the teacups.... Since there are usually three tide turns every 24 hours, it is normal practice to take the best of three results. Reliable clocks, calendars and timetables are used to determine the accuracy of the sheep forecast."

Makes sense to me...

Fish Beach

"It was Peter Greenaway who first drew my attention to the brief but stunning melody with which Mozart closes the exposition of the slow movement of the Sinfonia Conertante for violin, viola and orchestra...Peter's first and major instruction to me concerning the score for Drowning by Numbers (was) that it should be based on Mozart's movement...." Michael Nyman.

Drowning by Numbers is one of my favorite films, and the marriage of the incredible visuals to this stunning soundtrack is one of the many reasons why.

Listen & enjoy.


Watch out world, I've just found an easy (and seemingly safe) way to provide music links...uh oh!

I downloaded a bunch of stuff from my pal & fellow horse-year gemini, musical sounding-board and e-music addict, R. in Toronto while I was there - one thing in his list was Soul Mining by The The - something I haven't heard in years, and an album which couches some pretty dark sentiments and political vitriol under poppy 80s beats. I can't bring myself to listen to a lot of the stuff I loved in the 80s, but this album manages to stand up.

The Twilight Hour

I may download another track (Giant) at a later date, but have to run and get some cat food right now....priorities and all that ;-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A second home/another life

Back from the big smoke. Had a great last few days - no work, all friends. I didn't see everyone I would have liked to, but that is the nature of these short business jaunts. I'm just lucky that at least three times a year I have a chance to go back to reconnect with pals and a city that is pretty much my second home (special thanks to R & MM for making THEIR home feel like my second city-home yet again...they are incredibly tolerant ;-)

I spent some time at A.'s place outside Cobourg, and had a chance to see how the youngest members of her herd are doing: Francesca the foal, who is huge for two months and has an attitude to match her size; Foster, the yearling (and full brother to Francesca) who as you can see is as sweet as they come; Fenella (another full sister) being ridden by A., and the stunning hell-on-wheels Petra, who I took a snap of being ridden by her trainer as well & am including just to prove parts of Ontario are incredibly beautiful to any west-coast doubters. I should note that any of these gorgeous horses *can be yours!* (well, with the exception of Fenella who A. would really prefer to keep as her own riding horse). If I was ridiculously wealthy, they would all be mine (well, almost all of them...)

It amazes me how instantly I get back into Toronto life. Things are so familiar that I just flip back into being my Toronto self, with my Toronto pals and Toronto activities. It made me wonder what life would be like if I had stayed. If different choices had been made, by me and by those around me. I don't regret moving back to Vancouver, don't get me wrong - I love being back. Love it. But sometimes you have to think about the what ifs for awhile.