Thursday, September 30, 2010

My new love....

So my new love is a song called "The Wall" from Anais Mitchell's folk opera "Hadestown" [which is a telling of the Orpheus myth, set in post-apocalyptic depression-era USA.... it features Ani DiFranco as Persephone].

In anyevent, this is Hades [singer Greg Brown] singing.

I love it.... great political stuff!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Access Calgary

Sept 27, 2010

Zoe and I took the Access Calgary bus to the Deerfoot Mall on Saturday. I am not driving and for the price of a bus ticket, I can book to accompany her on public transportation. The contract for the transportation is held by Associated Cabs and the drivers know all of the clients after a while.

There were 10 of us on the bus. I was the only one who the driver came back to check on as to whether she had her seat belt done up. Before he pulled out onto the road, the driver checked his rear view mirror and his accented voice was yelling instructions at someone but I didn’t know who? It was when he finally called, “It is the one sitting by Zoe that I am talking to” that I figured out it was me who was to put down her arm rest.

For a fleeting moment I wondered why he didn't have the rider on the other side of the row, a couple of seats ahead of me, pull down his arm rest as well, but then, what did it matter.

“We are about to take flight,” he continued, “and you might fly off the side of the seat.

His concerns were warranted. The bus jolts and lumbers, forward and backward, to the left and the right – at the very least it is due for a new set of shock absorbers. Zoe is oblivious to the conversations going on in the bus ... who is having a birthday party the next day, why isn’t the driver being invited, questions to each other as to whether they have remembered their bowling cards or not. Annette tried to get into a conversation with Zoe, as she does every week. Zoe stares straight ahead, as she does every week.

Zoe demonstrates an initial spark of life when she gets into the bowling alley and sees the canteen where she can order fries and chicken strips. But even the food loses its charm when the leaders announce that the athletes can take their places in the bowling lanes. Then her face glows with happiness.

“Five strikes and three spares,” she told me when the games were over.

Wyona and I had talked about the odds of putting her on the bus, alone and having her return home. I thought the chances would be quite low and Wyona concurred. There is just that moment when standing waiting for the bus home that Zoe goes through a door from which I think she will quickly return. And when she doesn’t I know it is time to look for the closest vending machines, which she seems to have previously spotted but whose positions I have been oblivious to.

Waiting for the ride back is really fun. Two Access Calgary buses pull up, but when we go to each of their open doors, the drivers fumble through their papers and then call out to us, “Zoe, you aren’t on my list.”

A yellow wheel-chair accessible taxi drives up and the driver gets out and says, “I am your driver today, Zoe.”

Amazing how all of that is organized and I am the only one who doesn’t know what is going on.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Civic Camp

My eyes landed on a free newspaper while Wyona and I were sitting at the Dairy Queen. “Aldermanic Civic Camp Form, Triwood Community Centre, Thursday, 7 pm”, was about all I could read. I am not driving right now – no depth perception for a while due to the cataract surgery but this looked like an evening out in my neighbourhood. I have discovered it is a 20 minute quick walk to Wyona’s and Triwood Community Centre is five minutes short of Wyona’s house.

Civic Camp has organized aldermanic forums in each of Calgary’s wards, and this was the next-to-the last one they were running. Each candidate spoke 2 minutes. A set of questions were put to the candidates and 2 chits drawn from a cup so that the alderman holding that colour could answer that question. As well, each alderman had 4 chits worth one minute each when they could speak to a question of their choice. The audience was asked to respectfully refrain from jumping into the discussions, and that was about it.

The evening flowed beautifully. At one point one of the candidates referred to a 2 million dollar deficit and audience members called out, “You mean three million”, at which point the moderator chastised the audience for breaking their contract to stay quiet, even though the correction was good.

I saw next to the former president of the West Hillhurst Community Association, though I did not know that when I choose that seat. I used him to update holes in my knowledge about what is really political right now. Dalhousie residents are complaining that they have no drop curbs to go along with the beautiful set of walkways that criss-cross their communities. I had to ask what a drop curb was. And after listening to sustainable development, I had to ask what being an urban chicken farmer really means. Apparently some people keep a couple of chicken in their yard for eggs. I had a flash back to the time when Glen raised chickens and could also see us running across the rocks trying to catch his geese. About all I can do is keep the compost going in my yard and look to the east when I am in my backyard to see Richard and Miranda’s potatoes ready to be harvested and beans climbing up their bean poles.

I met an old colleague from Bibliographic Services in the Library who lives up in Charleswood and was Ward-hopping, he said, to get a flavour of what is going on in the election. I looked for others of my library friends who live in the Community, especially Rob Tiessen who is often at the mike during open meetings, but the dark glasses I am wearing inhibits a good scan of the audience. And there was no chance to talk about copyright laws, which is where he really shines.

The Triwood Community Centre was full – the mean age of the attendees was about my age -- 70. The only drawback to that is when my cohort are all trying to leave at the same time, the exit down the stairs is very slow, for most of the people are taking the stairs by both using the hand rails and having both feet on one step before attempting the next step. Other than that, we are all pretty young looking.

I notice that Civic Camp has organized a Forum for the Mayoralty Candidates as well on Wednesday, the 29th. With a little investigation, I might be able to figure out exactly where they are holding it.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The London Load Has Arrived

Here is the final move for Wyona and Greg (hopefully). Bates siblings, you will not believe how small the moving truck was. It was so tiny. It only took the movers a couple of hours to unload, and now they are unpacking boxes. I think they may even be done in one day (not Wyona and Greg, I mean the movers). So far only the glass on one picture frame is broken, and only 2 small tables that belonged to the government were packed by accident. I haven't seen any garbage pails with garbage in them. What a smooth move, literally. I guess after moving for 37 years, you would hope that the government movers would get it right by the end. Now I am trying to decided how much will fit in my mini-van to go home. Maybe I will take the large red van home...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eye Surgery: the grabber and the tarragon

Modern surgery made it possible for me to get a new lens with only local freezing in my eye. I was sent home with medication and instructions not to bend from the waist, nor to pick up anything heavier than five pounds. I also have some terrific sun glasses to wear, making me look very Hollywood.

Kelvin gave me an aid he has used to pick up items on the floor: a grabber. The grabber worked perfectly for me the first time I used it, but on the second day I couldn't get it to work no matter how much pressure I put on the handle. I tried to scoop up an article of clothing, but when the fabric slipped off numberous times I gave up and went to Kelvin.

"Could you please fix this."

"If you turn it around and use the other end, you will find I won't have to do anything to it," he said.

Because I can't bend over, the weeds in the flower beds at the back of the house have not only a head start on me, but may be taking over. Kelvin attacked the tallest ones. I wasn't all that happy when I saw the tarragon bush laying on the cement along with the noxious weeds.

"I will buy you a new one in the spring," he said.

"Replanting the old one will do," I replied. "We have yet to have a frost and still have Indian Summer to experience, so I think the roots will be fine. They just need to be grounded again."

So, two points for Kelvin -- he instructed me on how to use the grabber, and my tarragon is safely back in the ground.

One point for me -- my right eye has a new lens and my left eye will catch up with the right on October 8th.


David's dentist and toys-r-us visits

From David Doral:

Today I went to see my dentist in Peachland by Kelowna. I sat in the dentist chair all by myself for the first time. I was very brave. I got my second filling. It didn't hurt. Because I was so brave I got double presents from the dentist: bubbles, a bouncy ball, a dental bib, my own floss, and "Mr Thirsty" (the non-reusable tube top of the devise that sucks water from your mouth during dental procedures).

On the way home we stopped at Toys-r-us. I got to choose one small lego set. I got Star WarsRebel Trooper Battle Back. My favorite Star Wars character is R2D2. My next favorite it C-3P0. I like Chewbacca too. What is your favorite?

Bye. May the force be with you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Drive Home and Summer Wrap-Up

From the Camps-Johnsons

Add a couple of hours to your mean driving time if you are going to or from B.C. There is still construction at Lake Louise and at Ten-Mile Hill. The longer trip doesn't make a difference though, when it comes to that initial enjoyment of stepping out of the car and feeling the moist air on your skin or having the scent of cedar all around you. Bonnie, Joaquim and David tried to list what is so good about having a trip back home and seeing Annis Bay again.

1. The beauty of the waterfall that is to the south of the road just around the Enchanted Forest never ceases. The one, which when passing, someone always says, “Grandma Wyora loved this waterfall.

2. Right now you can see part of the Salmon Run just at Yard Creek, the fish making their way up the river against the current. What a fantastic process to watch.

3. For Joaquim there is autumn pleasure of the first day of kindergarten when parents are encouraged to sit through the day and see how the child is doing through in his French immersion class.

4. The charm of the little Canadian Stream is still high – there would be a long list of people who have spent many hours turning its course, though few have managed to turn it far from emptying into the lake.

5. A walk down the rutted road to the lake still carries with it an indescribable magic.

6. David Camps won the prize for the person who had read the most books this summer at the library. Well, what is a person to do in Sicamous if they have 1 /12 hours to spend between when their morning class ends and their afternoon one begins. There are only 2 big things to do there. Visit the library or the hockey rink. Both good choices, but David didn’t always have his skates in the car for a quick spin around the rink.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eleven and Under Have Fun at the Wedding

David Camps was hanging out by the door where the food servors went in and out. He asked the women if there was anyone in the kitchen who was wearing one of the tall, chefs hats. They said they would bring someone like that out for him to see. Then they went about their work and David patiently waited. Soon the head chef came out, complete with a tall, white, pressed and pleated hat.

“I liked your roast beef, your carrots and your cheesecake,” said David.

“Thank you,” said the Australian and said he name was Peter.

"Wait here and I will bring you something special, he said to David. He arrived back with a big scoop of ice-cream, garnished with a strawberry, a mandarin orange and a chocolate wafer. David only likes the first taste of ice cream, so he was happy to pass among his other cousins. All could not pass it on as willingly as he, which sign I take as they have the true Pilling desire for bricked, bucketed or 2 1/2 galloned ice-cream.

By this time, most of the younger kids were in the hall.

“Everyone on the couch,” called Bonnie. “Now we are going to practise our dance moves for when we return to the main dance floor. You must clap after anyone gives their performance.” And the little bodies began to perform, from Zach with his break-dance moves to Audra who stood in front of everyone and twisted an ankle for them. And the applause was good.

Then they all told their favourite part of the wedding so far to each other and returned to the dance floor.

Charise lead a conga line of them weaving in and out of the tables and along the perimeter of the room. Joining them [for me] meant bending down low to hang onto the shoulders of the person ahead.

The only on-floor neck injury was to David Camps who preserved through eight songs, trying to catch the illusive lights of the disco ball they travelled down the wall to the floor. He was joined by other kids who did not preserver as long as he did, but who had equally as much enjoyment. Carter, one of Janet’s newphews once removed has feet that are in high gear on the dance floor. We got acquainted with his family when they did a sleep-over at Aunt Janet’s this summer. That kid can really go!

Jeremy and Sarah’s Big Day

September 11, 2010

When I left the house to drive to the wedding, my back lawn was already wet from an autumn shower, so I popped two umbrellas in the car. But the weather held out beautifully and rain didn’t fall until the couple were taking pictures on the golf course. Again, the sun shone on the Pillings

The wedding was on the patio of the Valley Ridge Golf and Country Club. The view to the west was of the reception area, fully ready with the banquet tables set, the flowers on the tables, the white coverings on the dining chairs, the chiffon bows hanging from the back of each. The view to my left was of the rolling golf green, and specifically the area that caught my eye was a chip laden flower bed out of which was growing the Shasta daisies and the black-eyed Susans, flowers that nostalgically reminded me of the summer weddings of other cousins.

The bride walked down the isle at two pm., just as the wedding invitation said she would. The groomsmen were at the front and later Jeremy said that they did just as they were supposed to do: remind him to keep breathing, deeply. The vows had been written by Jeremy and Sarah. They had each written five words that described the other and the marriage commissioner wrote his introduction around those words. The memorable line for me was Jeremy’s when the vows were spoken, with the phrase, “when you wear this ring, remember me.”

Before the wedding began someone turned around and with a warm smile said, “Hello, Arta.” I didn’t recognize who it was, but thought to myself, “that must be one of Janet’s relatives, for there is a unmistakeable timbre to the voice. The greeting was so warm, that I feel I know that person better than I do.”

There was only one flash of a smile and then she turned so that I could only see her back, so I studied her. I was looking at the shoes – black, wedged, two inch straps around the ankles.

It was a few minutes before I got a side profile and figured out, it was Janet -- with a dramatic haircut -- sleek and shorter than I have ever seen. In fact as I have told you, I am her sister-in-law and didn’t even recognize her. I am not going to feel badly about that for I was telling this story to her brother Ralph who concurred. “I only knew it was Janet by her voice, too”, he said.

Glen was easier to recognize, his shock of grey hair now white.

Laynie was the emcee and told the guests that there would only be one rule at the celebration, one that originated from Jeremy’s childhood. As a child, taking a bathroom break was hard for him when there was so much fun going on. So she asked that when Jeremy had to slip off to the men’s room tonight, could all of the guests respect his need not to miss one bit of the festivities, stop what they are doing, have no fun, and wait for him to return.

I watched the guests dance all night. And I found my own way to the dance floor as well. I was remarking to Tim Oldham that there were no rests, literally speaking, in the music. One tune moved into another without a break.

I only knew that the song had changed by the dynamics of the rhythm, and not because there was a moment between when one song ended and the next started. “Yes,” said Tim. “We do that in the Starlight Big Band, too. Line the music up and just go from one tune to the next. No shuffling through papers to find the next tune.”

At one point I said to him, isn’t that tune “Dancing Queen” from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?” He said that most of the tunes came from 70’s and 80’s – the days of danceable tunes, which seems to be the music chosen for all wedding dances.

“Do you play often?”, I wanted to know.

He laughed. “About six times a year. But our band practises every week to keep our skills up and have some fun.”

Now here was a wedding celebration where the guests didn’t need to be invited to get their feet moving after the meal. The floor was crowded and the face of the crowd was inter-generational: people from 79 to 3 months old were tapping their feet or rocking to the rhythms.

Zach asked his family earlier in the evening if there would be a chance on the dance floor for break dancing. “You know, the kind where everyone stands around in a circle and claps,” he said. Later in the evening I went to find out when this would happen. Apparently it had, but out in the hall where the music was more muted. I had to confirm that he had been doing this by touching his forehead, and yes, it was wet from the energy exerted in the dance I had missed.

I passed by eight-year old Gabe in the line-up at the bar. “What are you drinking tonight?”, I asked.

“Sprite,” he answered, “and I am getting a coke for someone else.”

“Are you break dancing as well tonight, with your brother?”

“I can’t,” he said, rubbing his hand smoothly down his tie and across his shirt. “I am all dressed up in my best Sunday suit.”

Dressing up was on Doral Johnson’s mind as well, but it was because he was looking at the outfit Greg Bates was wearing. “A man with a vest that matches his suit,” and even the more remarkable, that the vest still fits, no having to tug to get the buttons done up on it,” Doral commented, vestless himself.

I knew the party had been a good one when I saw a little seven year old girl, who had used up all of her energy on the dance floor, was now laid out by her parents across three chairs, now shoeless and sound asleep. Janet had more energy than that child, though I noticed she did change her shoes and her jewellery as the evening went on – in the case of the jewellery now moving to a black and white medallion around her neck, one she had glazed and fired in her own kiln this summer.

I had plenty of chances to go home earlier rather than later, but I waited for my very last possible ride – so I took one with my next-door neighbour, Miranda. Richard said in the car, “Now, I think the best part of the party was the hugs on leaving, so many embraces from so many incredible people. People I just love. Connor: Janet, Glen, Laynie, my incredible adult cousins.”

“Yes,” said Miranda. “I was touched too, for I even got a hug from David.”

“Now that is cool,” he said. “You know, you have to have had a wedding to really enjoy one, to know how much work they are and how much the couple have really planned on having you there. I had no idea before I was married.”

She nodded in agreement.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quilting Frames

Quilting frames are a relic of the past.

At least that is what I thought.

Then Miranda told me that she is going to learn to quilt. The old fashioned way. You could have bowled me over with a feather. I thought my quilting days were over.

Moiya brought her quilting stands for us to use, transporting them in from Annis Bay.

Miranda has some yardage -- cotton that Joan, her mother, gave her to use up. So all we need is some batting, some frames and some quilters.

Frames? Where ever am I going to find frames. Both of my sets burned in the garage fire and I haven't missed them until now.
Already many people have turned us down as to helping us quilt.

What kind of excuse is "I have too much arthritis in my hands."

Do give us a phone call if you are "in" for a weekend of quilting. Or even a few hours will do.

Miranda is not the only one into the fabric arts.

Moiya showed me a picture of a beautiful bag on Michelle Wood's arm, one Michelle had made herself.

Wyona has a new sewing machine ... as of the fall.

Playing with fabric?

Not a bad hobby.

Anyone else joining us?


The Last Course

I have one course to take and then I will be finished the film minor of my Women’s Studies Degree – not a degree with which I am going to make any money, nor a minor that will get be a job with any status for that matter. But one that I am going to finish, never-the-less.

I have been having my in-class fun – beginning today with two new tasks. I learned how to hook my computer up to the wireless network that is in many of the university classrooms. And I learned how to send an in-class assignment to my teacher through the digital drop box. I should get an A in the course for making my way just through those two tasks.

Sweat. Sweat to learning new technology. One of the last things in the world to make me breathless.

And I hadn’t had to do any real thinking yet – at least nothing that came out of books. I just used a gender-bias, looked around the room to find a man who looked technologically savvy and asked him for help. I had done everything right but didn’t have the final piece. After connecting to the network I had to close down and come back in. That doesn’t sound like a really big piece of information I was missing, but it was big enough to keep my computer black.

The movie course is called Film 307: Natalie Wood and the Sexual Revolution. I had to preview 5 of her films before getting to class and the group sees another film each day, plus we all do a piece of writing for the professor during the last hour of the day.

How cool is that?

Kelvin and I have both been reading tonight.

Him? The Book of Mormon.

Me? Eva Illouz’s article “Freud: A Cultural Innovator."

Hard to know who is having a better time reading.

If laughing while you are reading is any indicator, then it is me who is drawing down the most enjoyment. A charming old article – so much fun to read historical documents from the past.

Trell came over a couple of days ago and found me reading Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro”. Stunning writing on Mailer’s part and such a bad thesis.

Trell laughed after he saw what was on my screen and I gave him the title of the article. He was going to go home and put up on twitter, “You will never guess what I found my 70 year old mother doing today?”

Something bad happened to me in class today. I am going to blame it on having just watched Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel without a Cause.

I didn’t exactly answer the question the teacher had posted on the board.

I couldn’t help myself.

I saw another beautiful argument to make ... and why not. I do not recommend this tactic to anyone else who is reading here.

I tried to go through the pessimist/optimist strategies to make myself be good.

The worst thing that could happen is that one of you is going to ask what my mark was.

The best thing that can happen is that of the first 4 assignments, the mark on the lowest one gets expunged. And it might be the F I am going to draw on that assignment.

I did another radical move.

Professor Sullivan told us to be concise, clear and to use short sentences. Use absolutely no semi-colons. No big words. And no sentence more than two lines long.

She then said that she was going to eviscerate our writing, in any event, but she warned us to keep at least those rules.

What does eviscerate mean?

And is it a big word?

And it is a good thing that this is my last course.


Sunday Night Dinner Conversation

"What kind of vegetarian is Bonnie," someone asked at Lurene and Tim Oldham’s Mexican food dinner party.

“Oh, she just doesn’t like the taste and texture of meat.”

“What about you, Lurene. What are you?”

“A political vegetarian.”

“Ah, the worst kind,” someone said and others nodded in agreement. Moved by politics. No one in the group had the energy to take on an argument with a political vegetarian.

So in the spirit of peace, and because Tonia asked me to send some of my lentil recipes to Lurene, I send you my best lentil tip, Lurene.

I have to send a tip, for all of my vegetarian recipes are at the lake.

My tip?

For satisfaction, find a simple dahl recipe, one that takes onions, lentils and some spices with heat, and have it as a back-up in the fridge. Use it as a temptation for others around you when they are eating their Alberta beef. Some might be swayed by the delicious aroma of your dahl.

Viva la vegetarianism and smart politics. And thanks for a lovely visit to your house. what was wrong with me. I should have gone out and looked at your garden in the back. Just didn't have the time.



Sunday, September 5, 2010

Portland Island Visit

Yesterday, we took the family and headed off to Portland Island for a visit. It is an island about 20 minutes out from the ferry terminal.

Our friend Hamar, having recently grounded his own sailboat, had rented an ecoboat... so off we went.

On the way across, we saw a bunch of seals sunning themselves, and a mother seal nursing her baby. We also saw a sea lion in the process of catching and eating a salmon. I didn't get the camera out in time, as I was enthralled by the picture. The boat driver went in a large circle around and around so we could watch. Basically, the sea lion was whacking the fish back and forth across the water, flinging it up in the air in an attempt to get more and more of it down its throat. Seagulls were hovering near in an attempt to get part of the entrails. Amazing.

We were dropped off by a little dock, and wandered up the hill to start our hike around the island. There were beautiful views of the ocean any direction you looked.

We hiked through the trees, the sun sparkling through.

The island was FULL of moss... covering the forest floor, the rocks, the trees. The trees often seemed to grow out of the ground horizontally rather than vertically, as if they were reaching out to the ocean rather than the sky.

We stopped for lunch 45 minutes in at Arbutus Cove.You can see a shell midden in the background. Shell middens are like ancient 'garbage dumps'! :-) That is, they are piles of old shells, from hundreds of meals past! They are basically the evidence of a First Nations settlement on the island long long ago (like, 1000 years or something).

If you look closer up, you can see it is a deep pile of seashells, in this case, white and purple.

We hiked to the other side of the island: shell beach. The white sand you see here is primarily sea shells. But years of being tossed by the sea has softened all the edges. It has a sort of glassy crunch when you walk on it, but Alex concluded that it was actually soft to sit on.

Steve found a log to lay on and settled down for some R&R.

Duncan, on the other hand, eventually concluded that it was a bit boring hanging out on the beach, and gave me his best "I am bored" face. I thought it was pretty impressive performance of boredom!

We sat there and looked out to the water... the ferry passes right by, so we watched ferries and sailboats pass by under the blue skies, with white clouds wandering past. We saw two whales spouting, and probably what was another sea lion making a meal of a salmon. All in all, a pretty perfect day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CPR 'Action' Shots

I had one of those moments this summer where I realized that in all my years at the lake, I had never once taken a shot of a train going by. So... here is my 'flip-a-rama version' (for all you fans of the Captain Underpants series) of the train going by. Feel free to print off, and turn into an action shot! :-)

The Bird Whisperer

This summer, at the Shuswap, I had two opportunites to experience the power of the old adage "a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush". Twice I got to pick up a stunned bird that had lost an encounter with one of the windows in the house.

The first time, it was a small hummingbird... i picked it up gently with a paper towel, but could feel it stirring. I held it just long enough for a few of the kids to look, before a small opening it my hands gave it the opportunity for escape.

The second time, I saw the little yellow bird hit the glass and fall to the ground. The bird tried to stand back up, and fell over on its side. I wasn't sure if it was stunned, or in the beginnings of its death throes.

Alex was sitting on a chair on the deck. I scooped the little thing up, and set it down on the chair beside him. Still stunned, it sat beside him, giving its head the occasional flip.

Arta grabbed her bird book (to identify its type), while the rest of us looked on, debating the extent of its injuries. After a few minutes, it started hopping around on the chair.

Then, with Alex whispering little soothing comments at it, the bird jumped up onto Alex's leg. Hooks right into him.

The bird hung out on Alex's leg... looking around. Stayed on even when Alex slowly tried to stand up.

And finally, with another flick of its head, this little bird, like the hummingbird, spreads its wings and headed back to the bush.