Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ho ho ho...

  A selection of photos to mark the season - these ones not taken by me, but by the person that inflicted the infamous cat-pee licorice experience upon her relatives last Christmas.  It was a traditional gathering for the group - my nephew fetchingly adorned with gold balls from the Christmas crackers (my work, thankyouverymuch),  Christmas pudd that burned so long you could have roasted marshmallows, a cracker-crown wearing dog looking longingly at...well, everyone - and parents ignoring the collapse of their eldest on the floor.

I am surrounded by idiots (don't worry, they would agree).  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tis the season...

And when I say that, I wish I meant "'tis the season of all good things", but it is not that simple.  Certainly there are good things, but it's also a season that is difficult for many.  There is nothing like a holiday that celebrates the coming together of friends and family to remind you of those that aren't around anymore, or to highlight the thorny parts of relationships.  I'm hardly pessimistic, I'm just a realist (yes, I'm trying that old chestnut on for size).  The expectation that everything will be fun and joy is the dark underbelly of Christmas - if society would stop marketing that illusion, we'd all be a whole lot happier.  That being said, I'm not downplaying the fact that we should all take a moment to think about the good things, the family and friends that we have around us, because life can change, and take those things away, in a heartbeat.  Recent world events serve as an unfortunate reminder of that fact.

This year has marked a change for me - I'm back to decorating the tree on my own for now.  Well, not quite on my own, Mags observes - and judges - my every move from her perch on a diningroom chair.  Mum and I picked out a gorgeous tree, but it took me a few days to get up the energy to decorate it.  Now it is done I love it, but it took some willpower to get there.   But change does require willpower I suppose.  I have yet to take a good photo of this or any tree - trust me, it looks much less like an alien space craft in person.

And in sad news, my Mum's crazy, lovely boxer's life came to a peaceful end this week.   She had a great run of it, no doubt, but that doesn't make it easier.  My family has had a string of boxers over the years, but Chobe had a special place because she was around as my Dad got sick.  As he declined, she became more and more important to him, and I can't help but believe she knew exactly what her role was.  She didn't judge or mind his declining health, she was just there to provide contact and affection and a sense of the silly - something Chobe also gave my Mum as she went through the hard adjustments of Dad's decline and subsequent passing.  The plan is to scatter the dog's ashes along with Dad's this year.  It feels like the right thing to do.  But, life does go on, and hopefully there will be another canine in the family fold in the not too distant future.

To end on a positive note (yes!), I have three weeks off work. I have a fantasy that the end of that period will see an organized basement and a kitchen without wallpaper - wish me luck!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The big smoke for a short while

Yep, back in Toronto - this time a total rush trip, entirely work related, and entirely unpleasant (well, maybe that's harsh - I do have dinner plans that should be fun one night)

In mores interesting news, saw The Punch Brothers at the lovely Chan Centre with the equally lovely L. last night. The openers were the Milk Carton Kids, a fantastic acoustic duo with the best quirky on-stage patter I've experienced in a while ("winning" is the word), followed by the amazing Punch Brothers. Holy Crap is my official statement for the night. Insane talent, and one of those nights where I didn't feel a need to send dagger eyes at audience members - you could hear a pin drop when the band played (and that included some beautiful, un-mic'd moments, including some mind boggling Bach on the mandolin by the amazing Chris Thile) So impressive. I'm usually not a big fan of bands doing covers, but they threw in a few (Kid A and Dead leaves and the dirty ground to name two) and the approach is so fresh and unique it makes the effort make sense. And they did the slightly discordant third movement of The Blind Leaving the Blind from their first album, which quite honestly made my night. It was one of those evenings where you look around, and realize how unbelievably lucky you are to be right where you are.

Unfortunately no videos ( not something easily pulled of at the Chan), but I will show you a snap of the tour t instead.

I will stop now - I'm writing this on my iPad in the back of a cab speeding along a bleak Toronto highway, and I'm now feeling kind of car sick...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crossing the border (and other lines?)

An interesting few days for sure.

First, something from the very VERY entertaining Patrick Watson, who put on a stellar show at the Centre last Thursday.  My video attempts? Less than stellar.  This is as good as it got, and my memory stick filled up half way through the song:

He was fabulous.

And the weekend? Well, the weekend was spent in Seattle with my regular partners in adventure.

Why were we there?

Um, to watch a film festival.  Not documentary, not foreign film...but ... um,

The Stranger and the Portland Mercury once again invite amateur filmmakers, porn stars, porn-star wannabes, hotties, kinksters, regular folks, and all other creative types to make short porn films—five minutes max—for HUMP!™ 2012. ... anything goes at HUMP!™ (Well, almost anything: No poop, no animals, no minors.)

Yep.  HUMP! The idea here is to let people be 'porn stars for the weekend' - all copies of the films are destroyed immediately after the fest, never to be seen again (unless the creators decide to release them, that is).  

And how did I end up there?  Firstly, my long term admiration for one of the main creators of this phenomenon, Dan Savage - a controversial figure for sure, but certainly someone who stands up, advocates for what he believes in, and does more good on this planet than most in terms of education and pointing out the many hypocrisies that exist in the world.  

So,..why else?  Well, it was a bit of a personal challenge I suppose.  I am not what would be considered a "consumer" of porn, though I support its existence completely, for a bunch of different reasons I won't bore you with. That being said, some lizardy part of my brain finds it (or some of it) more problematic.  I am bored (or creeped out) by the inherent over the top artificiality; I am bothered by what can be a nasty tone; and I have to admit some concern that the incredible ease of access makes it the primary way young people learn these days what sex is about - and porn is to sex what romantic comedies are to real life relationships.  It's fantasy, not a teaching tool - but how are the inexperienced supposed to know the difference?  And I know, I know - I am generalizing.  And trust me, I could go on and on about this topic and my mixed up thoughts.  Welcome to my brain.

Then there's HUMP! - for me and the girls, a flight of fancy and a chance to dig into what might happen when the 5-minute challenge outlined above meets creative brains.  And a chance to see what truly non-commercial porn would (or could) look like.  And what a fun and interesting night it was.

The ballot!
To start, the energy in the theatre was happy and buzzing - the doormen, who made it clear that cameras were NOT welcome, were decked out in intentionally campy, tight fitting soccer uniforms.  We spilled into the cinema, and were greeted by Dan Savage, who chatted about the festival for a bit, what the rules were, and that any heckling or disrespectful remarks from the audience would result in the offenders removal ("we want to see assholes on the screen, not in the audience").  And then a table full of Jack Daniels shots was carried out.  I believe city bylaw say that say that you can't consume alcohol while watching porn, so they offered it to us first - for $5/shot, which went to charity.  The flock of bodies (yes, mine too) moving down to the stage to grab a shot just added to the general craziness.  Very fun.  Really.

And then - the films.  I'm not going to say much about them, except that they were often funny, and often surprising.  They covered a real cross section of humanity, and they were almost universally well shot and edited - really quality little shorts, regardless of the subject matter.  The audience laughed, cringed, whooped and applauded.  Who knew porn could be  There were ballots, and voting (best humour, best kink, best sex, best overall). What it was, really, was a celebration of human sexuality in all (well, most of ) it's forms.  It was about acceptance, no matter what  body you are in (transgendered,  disabled, skinny, lumpy, name it), or what you like to do with that body.  And that was a delight to see.   And I wasn't creeped out (well, ok maybe once...).  Or bored.  Or bothered by the tone.

As we exited, pushing our ballots through the genital-orificed vote boxes, we were smiling.  And trying not to stare too closely at a couple walking in front of us that we had seen much, MUCH more of only a few minutes before.  Porn stars for the weekend, they were indeed.  And HUMP! has found some more converts.  We will be back next year, for sure.

A & her morning after eggs...
And, to clarify, I'm still not a consumer of porn.  Really...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lots to see, not much to say

I've been a culture glutton for the last week.  Really I should have so much to say - and if you were to talk to me in person, I do have so much to say...but I'm being a lazy blogger.  So - the highlights:

1.  Skyfall, the new James Bond.  Suprisingly great for an action film.  Daniel Craig and Judy Dench are fantastic.  Did I mention Daniel Craig?  Javier Bardem also brings a delightfully over the top villain to the screen.  Oh, and there's Daniel Craig...

2. Kidd Pivot's "The Tempest Replica" with my dance partner in crime A.  A beautiful piece, for sure - excellent creative staging of a well known classic.  That being said, I didn't find myself as connected to it as I have other dance works I've seen.  Trying to figure that one out - I think maybe I was too concerned about narrative to appreciate the choreography as much as I could have.  I think this is my problem more than the work's.  I'm a dance virgin, I still obsess about understanding that language, maybe the well known narrative component was too much for my rapidly aging brain to handle on top of that.

3. Robert Lepage's "The Far Side of the Moon" - twice in four days, with my Lepagian-frere, on his birthday no less.  Yes, we are both obsessed.  This is something I definitely did connect with - I've seen it three times now, and I'd see it again any time.  I've spoken about Lepage before and I really don't know what else there is to say - except that I wish I had one quarter of his creativity, and I will see ANYTHING he puts together.   And for those of you who don't have the ability to see the theatrical version of the story, it is well worth renting the DVD of the film version - very very different than the theatrical work, but no less worthwhile.

This week brings more cultural fun - and hopefully more energy to write about it...

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sometimes I'm elsewhere...

Yes, if I'm not blogging you can find me here; more photos of Mags, Eddy and Lizzie, Chobe and my Halloween-ness await.

I should mention that Lizzie and Eddy are my pals' new babies - not sure they knew quite what they were letting themselves in for when they brought these two whirlwinds home - a whole lot of activity and laughs that's for sure. Adorable, both of them. Oh, and the kittens are pretty cute too ;)

In other news, finally saw PT Anderson's "the Master" - wow. Something that requires a second watch for sure. Insanely good performances all around. Joaquin Phoenix is unsettling at the best of times, but he is a man possessed in this. Amazing.  Beautifully shot as well, as you can see from the trailer below.

And speaking of amazing, off to see Robert Lepage (*artistic swoon*) in the super fantastic "Far side of the Moon" this week with another swooning Lepage fan.  I saw him perform this in Toronto about 12 years ago with a theatre-nut ex, and it changed my view of theatre forever.  No kidding.  Cannot WAIT.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

He makes 60 seem so appealing

Had the privilege of going to see David Byrne & St. Vincent last night at the Centre in Vancouver. Reasons I loved the night (in no particular order)

1. David Byrne - 60 and still making inventive, relevant, unique music - and still busting out those signature dance moves.

2. SECOND ROW SEATS!!! Wow. So great.

3. The Byrne voice over before the gig encouraging people to film, photograph, while being mindful of one's neighbours. Yes. YES.

4. The venue nazi who kept people from sneaking down to the stage. OK maybe I'm a Scrooge but I was loving my aisle seat, and the fact the was no one crammed in the aisle beside me - so more power to you, aisle Nazi!

5. Fantastic horn section. Heck, fantastic musicians all round

6. Did I mention second row seats?

7. No opener and an early show. I'm such a late night lightweight that I appreciated that.

These two talents work really well together, no doubt, and the music they've produced is complex, catchy and bright (thanks, horns!). Sure, I missed the tutu Byrne wore last time he was in town, but you can't have everything.

I taped three songs - here is one for your entertainment.  The lighting is a bit harsh in this one, but his dance moves make it worthwhile.

I also saw Sarah Polley's fantastic documentary "Stories we Tell" - beautifully conceived, postmodernist delightfulness - after "Take this Waltz" (LOVE that film), Polley may be my new Canadian filmmaking hero.  In this one, she interviews her family and family friends as she pieces together the story of her mother, and ultimately of herself.  Really, really worthwhile.  And for me, strangely timely as I had just had a conversation with my brother the night before about events from childhood - and how, like in Polley's film, our memories of the same events, and the stories we carry with us, are unique, incomplete, molded by time and by our own individual perceptions.  Engaging stuff, and well worth a watch.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

VIFF 2012 - over and out

And to be honest, I saw a lot of solid films, but few I would really push anyone to see.  My best day of the fest was last Friday - the last day as it happens.  A couple of films really stayed with me - one, like a bad dream, the other quite the opposite.

The bad dream?  Virgin Tales, a great Swiss documentary following the Wilsons, an Evangelical Christian family headed by Randy, field director for the Family Research Council (shudder) and founder of the father/daughter Purity Ball (double shudder).  A fascinating glimpse into a world that I find, quite honestly, terrifying.  Listening to the 20 year old daughter wait for her perfect man to miraculously appear while dismissing utility of higher education and embracing teaching young women how to modestly drink from water fountains made my head hurt.  The director handles it all with a considered, delicate hand.  Well worth a watch.

And making my head hurt for a very different reason? How to Grow a Band, which follows the insanely talented Chris Thile as he embarks on his new project, the Punch Brothers - and their first tour, which revolves around Thile's 40 minute string quartet written for bluegrass instruments. Try to sell THAT to an audience thinking they are in for a typical night of traditional bluegrass. Typical bluegrass this isn't, by any means; nor is Thile your average musician- footage of him playing a mandolin like a pro before he was anywhere near puberty left me shaking my head. I'm not a huge bluegrass fan by any means, but I love me a band that really stretches the borders like these guys do.
Here is a clip from the second movement of the 40 minute work
And just for fun, a cover of Radiohead's Kid A.

Debating whether to go see their show at the Chan Centre in November - the only thing holding me back is that I need to travel on work the next day. We shall see... And in other news, my weekend highlight was a rip roaring games night with good pals - and a happy birthday celebration for the talented, lovely Avril. Fun, fun, fun time :)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Portland, portLAND, PORtland

Back from a whirlwind long weekend with my pal A in guess where? Man, I really do love Portland. We stayed with friends of A's just outside the city - convenient, and they were great hosts. And the weather was insanely beautiful. Walking around in early October with bare legs and no coat? Unless you're homeless or crazy, that's just not usual. So what did we get up to?
  • Coffee. And lots of it.
  • Enjoying the food options in a truly Gluten Free mecca - whole cafes dedicated to GF baking - it is enough to make you cry.
  • Powell's Books. Powell's Books. Powell's Books. If I say it three times, does that mean one will appear in Vancouver? Gads I LOVE that store. Between us we bought about 20lbs of books I believe (we actually weighed them) - next time, we will drive down so we can pack the whole trunk full.
  • A night at the theatre. A bit campy, but boy the sets and art direction were amazing.  More amazing? The couple sitting a few rows ahead that were Portlandia incarnate.  
  • An afternoon at the Japanese Garden. Calm sigh.
  • The farmer's market at Portland State University. LOVED IT. Such a gorgeous setting and amazing produce, cheeses, meats, GF baking, and peppers you could watch being barrel roasted right before your eyes.
  • Trader Joe's. I know, I know, not that exciting for you American types, but it is a magical land of inexpensive surprises for us poor Canadians.
  • A whole lot of walking and exploring and appreciating. Portland just feels so very livable.
If I was 24, I would be going to school there, no doubt.  There is a vibrancy and artsy quirkiness that is just so darned appealing - and unlike Vancouver, the city somehow manages to pull it off without pretension.

I've skipped over a lot of stuff, but I'm running out of steam. My one regret? Missing the Grizzly Bear concert, but my valiant sibling pretty much video'd the whole thing so I can get a sense of the wonder that I missed (check it out here)

Stumptown Coffee.  So good.

An example of what has become the all pervasive trend in signage in Portland - multi-font, slightly folksy. It is EVERYWHERE


PSU Farmer's Market

PSU Farmer's Market

Beautiful cherry toms

Japanese Garden - so lovely, such great patterns.


Look down....

Ya, I didn't do much clothes shopping, but this little number came home with me.  Figured I could scare Mags with the fox mask.  OK, ok, maybe not.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Don't give me false hope

( *if you are viewing this on an iPad, for some reason it will show the most recent video I've posted, not what I've actually embedded - so you'll have to view on your computer to see the right vids - or tell me how to fix this!!*)
Couple of videos from Glen Hansard's EXCELLENT show at the Vogue this week - first, Back Broke

And When Your Mind's Made Up....enjoy (I did!)

Off to PORTLAND today - more later :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September - over and out!

I feel like I haven't actually had time to blog recently - life has been busy, but lovely busy.  And today is one of those days where I can't keep my good mood at bay.

What has been going on in September? (and I am writing these down mainly so I don't forget how much I enjoyed this month)

  • a wonderful dinner out with my dear pal T - I haven't seen her since May (faaaar too long), followed by this play - funny and surprisingly moving.  Rebecca Northan is genius - she manages to bring humour to the experience without ever making the laughs happen at the expense of the bewildered "date".  If I could have found the time to see it again, I would have.
  • VIFF-AWAY!  Yes, the Vancouver International Film Fest has started.  I've seen a couple of films that I've quite enjoyed so far - No , and Teddy Bear.  In summary, No is the one starring the actor with an oversized head; Teddy Bear is the one starring the actor with the oversized body.  13 more screenings to go.
  • A dance performance by amazing American dance company Cedar Lake, with my brother.  Neither of us knows a stitch about dance, but that doesn't stop the fascination.

  • Hikes in the woods with the lovely L.  Healing for body and soul. Enough said.
  • A night with The Shins (well, even if singer James Mercer is the only original member, we will still call the The Shins).  Proof once again that musically Portland was and is awesome.  My video? Not so much, but it will do (I ran out of space at the end, sorry)

  • A splurge on a fab pair of oxblood Miz Mooz high boots.  Too many boots? NEVER.
  • And...the joy of looking forward to some time off work, more films, more concerts, and a trip to Portland next weekend.
No complaints from my world, right at this moment...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

S is for September...Super, and Sucky.

 I'm feeling a bit off these days - a little uncomfortable with things, work and otherwise.  I can only hope that it is the itchiness that ends up causing positive change - or the itchiness that just kind of drifts off by itself.  Either is OK I guess.

I've watched a dear pal go through a painful loss this month - and find myself feeling a big ball of sorrow for her - perhaps a slightly bigger ball because it brings losses of my own up front again as well, just when I was feeling like they were well and truly beaten into submission.  More fool me!  I should know by know that the arrogance of that sort of feeling will inevitably end up biting me in the arse by now.  I will learn, I will learn.

In the meantime, I am MAKING MY OWN YOGHURT! (there was no good segue into this, sorry).  I eat so much of the damn stuff that I figured making my own just made sense - economically, nutritionally (as it will be all dairy and bacteria, nada else - nom nom bacteria!), and because it gives me a suzie homemaker feeling of accomplishment.  I won't tell you how stupid easy it is to make, that would take the mystique away.

And, I've been thinking about this piece by Winston the cat's ex-dad.  I'm conflicted about it - I love his writing and his honesty, and his ability to nail down some feelings that aren't always that easy - but I can't help but think of how painful this sort of thing must be for his ex to read.  And that are things here that maybe it wasn't fair to share. Ultimately, does that matter? Who knows, but it obviously isn't sitting 100% comfortably with me.  And it raises a whole bunch of questions for me about putting this weird electronic life record out for the world to see.  I don't know.  I really don't.


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Yay for free

Last night I went to a show with three pals - all for free.  In a weird turn of events, I had (once again) won a Georgia Straight contest, this time for two free tickets to Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three - a quirky Americana/roots/country blues group that we saw briefly in the rain at the Folk Fest last year.  Then my pal A called in to a CBC contest and won two more off we went.

Now, as for Pokey Lafarge - this is music that is best served live.  I don't imagine I would listen to Pokey on my own time, but boy with his 1940s face and tone, he's something to see, and he knows how to work a crowd. A great show. FYI the video I've embedded is for a 45 that has just been released on Jack White's Third Man records, so people are paying attention.

But the real surprise of the night was the opener - the Alialujah Choir, from my beloved Portland. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but they make some really lovely music. I think humans are hard-wired to react to harmonies, just like I believe we are hard-wired to react in a very visceral way to dance (particularly contemporary - though I know there will be those who react with a "ya, my visceral reaction is it's RIDICULOUS). Regardless,these guys had the audience rapt, and that is hard for an opener to do. I'd go see them again in a heartbeat. And the video below is worth watching - a few minutes of chat at the beginning, then a couple of tracks. Enjoy - I certainly did!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Can you say "s#itty"?

Yes, Thursday I was happy, and happily out of focus with some good pals after a night of burgs (lettuce wrapped for the GF crowd) and fries (if Romer's does one thing really well, it's their fries)

And Friday, well, that was pretty great too - a siblings night out watching Maureen sing at the Cellar. I haven't seen her perform since I moved back from Toronto (come to think of it, I'm not sure I've seen any vocal jazz since I moved back) and she was great - right on her game, with a fistful of great new tunes and a fantastic backing band supporting her. A really great night.  And her new CD will be out in the fall, which is something else to look forward to.
And Saturday? Well, it started ok, with my regular weekend exercise and trip to Mum's. Well, with the caveat that my laundry tubs backed up. Mum and I took a closer look, and decided that once again, my sewer line had failed me. So - it spun into an afternoon of sewer line auguring and stress. And expense. And the realization that I have to decide whether to do one more repair on the line (another pipe section destroyed by the neighbours stupid f$&king red maple - no offense, tree, but I'm not your biggest fan), or bite the bullet and replace the whole line - which really does need to be done, in a perfect world. My sewer line is not properly graded (read: has dipping "belly" that collects water and gunk - I'm ok with my own dipping belly but the sewer line is another story), and has too many repairs between old crap pipe and new plastic pipe, and the joins and old pipe just keep on failing. Yesterday's plumbing company were pushy and annoying so I am going to get more quotes before doing anything, but to give you an idea, their quoted repair would be over 2K and the replacement, 7K. I do OK financially, but an unplanned 7K expense is enough to make me sweat. Particularly when I am bracing to spend a whack getting my chimney rebuilt in the next month or so. OH this is the reason people cohabit - to share the joys of home ownership? ;)
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


That word ("control!" shouted with gusto) always makes me think of my Dad.  I won't explain the reference, my family gets it, and that's good enough.

I've been think a lot about control - things I can't, things I can.  Right now, I know I'm really putting effort towards those things I can - mainly the house, and my health.  I'm focusing on taking care of both I guess - little improvements at the Bunkle as I chip away at the many things that need improving (I wonder when I will get around to to replacing the pane of glass in the kitchen window that has a 3/4" hole in it? 2014?), and little improvements in myself, as I focus on exercising more and eating better.  I'm starting to like both things a little bit more at the moment.  Much to my surprise, the closet downstairs has brought a great deal of calm to my life - disorganization stresses me out (a thought which will probably make anyone who has seen my office laugh - I am anything BUT naturally organized).  And the fact that I can now feel things that I believe are called triceps (I said feel, not see - we're nowhere near seeing, fear not), and get back into clothes that have been rejecting me for the past couple of years makes me feel like I'm doing some good for myself.  But I am well aware that this focus is in good part a way of dealing with all the things I can't change.  It's giving me the illusion of control, at least over something.  And I know that there is also joy in dealing with situations you can't control, but I'd really prefer not to right now.  But my tidy little life is very easy to control right now - it's my comfort zone.  It's selfish, I know that.  But I'm not ready to step out of that zone yet.  At least not until the chimney's redone, or the house is painted, or you can see my triceps, or something (ok the triceps thing will never happen so hopefully I won't be using that as a marker)

Canadian Gothic?

Gin, elderflower and cucumber.  So good.

Seared scallops with black quinoa and some foamy stuff - excellent (even the foamy stuff)
Responsible.  Or at least he's trying hard to be.

Bison carpaccio-induced happiness

Yes, she is singing...
In other news, my dear pals Martin & Maureen are out from Toronto for the week - Maureen is singing at the Cellar Friday and Saturday this week.  I'm looking forward to seeing her perform, it's been ages!  And it's been ages since the three of us have had a chance to catch up.  These two fed me many fantastic meals at their cute Toronto home when I lived in Ontario - they are both great cooks, and Maureen can make a killer pie blindfolded with one arm tied behind her back, singing a jazz standard or two while she does it.  And they have managed to raise two seriously gorgeous, seriously talented girls to boot.  So, last night we went out to Fraiche for a truly lovely meal.  Ostrich - NOM NOM! Who knew?! (other than cheetahs and lions I guess?)  The view is second to none, and the waiter was fantastic as well.  Then back to mine for some goat cheese ice cream with blueberry honey and toasted almonds (David Lebovitz you never fail me).  So great to see them both, and it just strengthens my resolve to take a bit of a TO holiday sooner rather than later.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Waiting for the plumber...

Actually, now I'm waiting for the plumber to finish and leave - he's been here almost three hours already (ka-CHING!).  The hot water pressure in my tub suddenly dropped, so I had to get someone in to look at it.  It took a fair amount of trouble shooting but it looks like the problem is the valve in the pipe coming out of my hot water tank - so, pipe has been sawed off, plumber now attaching a new pipe.  I am not looking forward to the bill for this one.  Not.  I have gone a bit crazy on the spending recently (Coach bag - whee! Plane fare to Portland - whee! My continually improving closet - whee! Clothes - whee!) and am also planning to rebuild my chimney this year (I'm waiting on a quote for that), so I guess the plumber is just one more expense ... nothing to worry about I guess, provided I don't lose my job any time soon?

If nothing else, Maggie enjoyed waiting for the plumber (she loves the bath mat these days).  Her expression will become even more glowering when we go to the vet for a nail trim later today...hopefully this time she won't try to recreate scenes from the Exorcist on the examination table.

Note the tail wag

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On my desk ...

This made my morning - I sooo needed a laugh.  And I so need a Bobcats mug.

Meet the Bobcats here  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

If you have more than one nemesis, do you have nemesi?

A quick post just because I haven't in a while - and it certainly isn't because I haven't had things to blog about (family reunion? Toronto pals' visit? The return of my brother's missing child...I mean cat...). I guess I just haven't had energy, because I've been expending it elsewhere, with gusto or reluctance, depending on the circumstance.

But back to the nemesis. Actually, Maggie's nemesis, not mine. I think I will call him Cecil, for no really good reason other than he looks like a Cecil. His days are spent, at least in part, making goofy faces at Maggie through the window. She is probably double his size, and has a face that does "indignant" extremely well, so she has been poofing herself up and attempting to look as indignant as possible a fair amount these days. From what I can tell, that's just makes it much more fun for him. And, truthfully, for me too.

The other big news is my closet - which is coming along really awesomely well, i LOVE it so far. Well, except the iron holder I just mounted isn't big enough for my iron (note to self: check these things before drilling holes into your wall). It's been a lot of work, and a fair chunk of money as well, but the calm I feel when I go in there and see everything so comfortably in its place makes it worth while.

And I will end off by saying this sunny weather is amazing. I love the rhythm of my weekend mornings in this weather, up while it is still quiet, out for some exercise before the rest of the world starts interfering with's good. My pal Ale and I had a discussion about happiness the other day, and how it seems to land on you for a while and then flee completely ... or land on you while you watch your friends go through terrible things. Right now, I'm somewhere in its outer circle - but I will take what I can get while it lasts.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Closet case

Wow, another post so soon? Something must be wrong! Well, nothing is, not at this exact moment. I've been dealing with a summer cold for the last few days, and today is the first day I haven't needed sinus medication, so I figure things are looking up. I've been in my head a lot over the past few days - I spend too much time in that vacant room at the best of times, but more so when I'm sick I guess. My illness addled insights?

Orange - orange gets a bad rap.  It's not as hot as red, and not as cheery as yellow.  But it's awesome, as colours go.

To thine own self be true - I *think* I'm finally learning to listen to my intuition.  I have a very very  LOUD, persistent inner voice, and I've learned over the years to beat it down with complex flights of well intentioned but misguided logic - something else I'm very good at.  The problem is, I don't always want to hear what that voice has to say.  From now on, I'm going to try and do a better job of listening.  It will be worth it in the end, even if it doesn't necessarily feel like it at the time.

Bodies like to do stuff -  Eating better, exercise - apparently it really is worthwhile. I am finally getting back into a regular exercise routine (much of which is made so much more fun because it is disguised as social time with my deal pal L.), and I am feeling so much better.  Mentally, and physically.  It feels good to treat myself well. 

Bodies like change - there is some...modification...on the horizon, after years of contemplation.  Timing is everything, and the time is right, now. It's secret for now, sort of, but watch this space and maybe I'll talk about it when it happens.

It's easier with two - The closet space in the basement is in progress - phase one of clothing rack installation happened with Mum's help, phase two with the lovely L's hands holding the level.  It's coming together really nicely!  Thank you Rubbermaid Closet Solutions!

Things look clearer from the outside - It's been interesting recently, in my brain.  I have moments of going up/down/sideways with my thoughts, some crazy emotional stuff, but I also finding the ability to step outside myself and see exactly what is going on in a strangely dispassionate way.  I am finding that I know (at times) when I should know better, if that makes any sense at all.  The first sign of schizophrenia, or the first sign of sanity? Hmmm.

Cats have way too much fur - they should have just enough that shedding would be detrimental to their health. Enough said.

Other than that, I am enjoying the spoils of winning some free tickets to the Neanderthal Arts Festival (yay to the Georgia Straight and my repeated luck re winning their contests...), and I went to see the always delightful Beirut last night - I've blogged about them a couple of times before (with better footage) so I will just say they didn't disappoint, and Zach Condon is as impressive as always.

Friday, July 27, 2012

No undies this time

The last time I saw the Dirty Projectors, it was my last show at Richards (unbeknownst to me at the time, or I would have stolen a stool or something).  The last time I saw the Dirty Projectors, my brother and I also saw Dave Longstreth's undies as he changed on the street in front of our car - a bizarre and memorable moment.  Unfortunately, this year there is no street parking on Granville conducive to outdoor lead-singer outfit changes.  And no show venue can live up to Richards, let alone the Venue (the most poorly conceived balcony space anywhere, IMHO).  All that being said, the gig was still a joy.

I love the Dirty Projectors because they force you to listen - I realize that might sound a bit odd, but I mean actively listen.  There is so much going on in terms of crazy time signatures and complex harmonies, it all feels held together by a thread that could snap at any time.  But the thread never does snap, and I'm left marvelling at that fact.  It is so good to hear a band that really DOES sound unique - Longstreth moves to the beat of his own quirky drum, and the musical world is a better place because of it.

I did take three videos - they aren't great because the lighting at the Venue (bleh) wasn't great, but the sound isn't bad - a minor miracle as I was maybe 6' away from a huge bank of flown speakers.  The tracks I recorded are from the new album, Swing Lo Magellan -  perhaps a shade more accessible that some of the other Dirty Projector albums, but still complex and inventive.

My only regret?  That Fiona Apple was playing on the same night - a show that was apparently excellent but not that well attended (Vancouverites, shame on you).  Oh, if only I could be in two places at the same time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Folk Festival 2012 ... burn baby burn

Good for Grapes - oh to be that young and have that energy

Sorry, no interpretive dancing in this shot....
Yes, the burn refers to my shoulders.  It's been years since I've let that happen, but at least it means there was some sun this weekend.

Last year's fest experience was a huge disappointment - to be honest, I've pretty much scrubbed it from memory, except a vague recollection of being wet, cold, and generally miserable.  Thankfully, this year more than made up for it.

Where to start?  Well, firstly to say that whoever is responsible for putting the workshop stages together did a truly kick ass job.  In terms of artists jamming together and making some truly special moments, I don't think I've seen a better year.  Who knew that Mali's Sidi Toure  would work so well with Oliver Shroer protige Jaron Freeman Fox and the bluesy Barr Brothers?  Apparently the programmers did. Brilliance.

And yay to the talented youngsters in Good for Grapes - I'm not certain that they are all out of their teens yet to be honest, but their talent and energy is frightening.  A little bit of Mumford & Sons, a little bit of Arcade Fire, and a little bit of Red Bull, and you've just about got it.  Oh - and an accordion player who has legs that deserve their own agent (you get a hint of that in the video below)
Royal Wood - yes, that IS his name...

Other highlights? Montreal's raucous Canailles (another impressive group of youngsters), and The Cave Singers, who brought something a bit old school to the mix.

Other than the music? Well, there was the audience, which really is a performance all on its own.  I saw a new "white guy dance" performed (step 1: put left hand in pocket; step 2: lean forward slightly from hips; step 3: shuffle feet from side to side; step 4: pretend to dribble a ball slowly and meaningfully with right hand); a beautiful topless blonde who walking with her lovely black girlfriend, who may come to regret her toplessness in the age of social media when she starts looking for gainful employment...well, depending on her career path I guess; and the drunken 35+ year olds standing beside me that contributed the self conscious clapping in the Cave Singers video below, who should know that they are lucky I curbed my desire to push my fingers into their eye sockets to SHUT THEM THE F&CK UP.

But enough of that.  The only other minor blip was slightly uncooperative weather Sunday morning - but if you were willing to brave the misty rain that hit until about 11:30, the rest of the day was fantastic.  And even the mist wasn't all that bad.  And as always, it is a delight to share this all with my BFF (Best Folkfest Friend) the lovely A, this year in our NEW matching chairs.

Great memories for sure.  Can't wait until next year!
Evening stage 

The Head and the Heart

The Cave Singers - personal fave from this year's outing

Dan Mangan (sorry Tui, he's getting married in the fall)

Yes, we are wearing raincoats - SO WHAT?! There are tank tops under there somewhere....

Canailles - the guy on the left has a voice like gravel scraping along the bottom of a well.   SO MUCH FUN

Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole - a serious washboard....

Canailles watch Bijou Creole across the stage