dreaminghope: (Zoey)
What follows are some of my reflections on the post-Stanley Cup riots in downtown Vancouver. The Facebook and Twitter posts are uncredited because I don't know what's locked under privacy locks and what isn't. If you see something you wrote and want credit, let me know. All spelling and punctuation are from the originals.

We're about a ten minute drive from the heart of downtown, where about 100,000 people had gathered to watch the big game on Wednesday night. We aren't hockey fans, but we flipped over to the game a couple of times during the course of the evening. When we saw that the home team had lost, Russ looked out our living room window, up and down the street: "It looks quiet out there."

I went on Facebook and read the following updates over the next couple of hours:

All I can hope at this point is that all of the people downtown are behaving and continue to behave like civilised folks.

oh come on Vancouver! don't trash the city! street fires and vehicle vandalism?

Car fire at Hamilton and Georgia

Its apprantly getting bad. Police cars getting flipped now..

So... The first can of tear gas has been fired. I'm downtown.

Ug.. now the cop cars are on fire...

Vancouver, this is why we can't have nice things.

St. Pauls hospital is apparently at Code Orange and locked down. :(


Russ slept in until about 6:15 on Thursday morning. He would have slept longer, but I let the cats into the bedroom to keep him from going fully back to sleep after his 6 wake-up call. That was wake-up number two; the first, to the alarm at 4:50, was rough for him and he stayed in bed. He hadn't slept well: couldn't fall asleep, couldn't stay asleep, and between, had nightmares about the riots. Russ wants so badly for this city - his city - to be a place where we can celebrate or mourn together without it becoming a police event.

And it goes on. )

This isn't a holligan town. It's OUR town! Peace & Love. (one of many messages written on the plywood over one of the broken windows at Chapters)

There's a lot of plywood up as businesses wait for new windows to be delivered. All over the city core, the plywood is scrawled with hundreds of messages: people expressing their shame in the rioters, their anger in what's been done in the name of hockey, their hope that it will never happen again, and their faith that our city is better than this. Mostly, the messages were reclaiming this city as being a beautiful and peaceful one, and not what was seen on the international news on Wednesday and Thursday.

Maybe we're a little less apathetic today. Maybe we're taking our city a little less for granted. As I ran errands all over downtown today, I saw a lot of people adding their messages of hope to the plywood, a lot of people taking photos, and people adding thank you notes to the police car. I also noticed that everyone looked at the plywood as they walked past it, even if they were obviously in a hurry.

Last night was not what Vancouver stand for. I am still proud to be a Vancouverite. (one of many messages written on the plywood over one of the broken windows at The Bay)
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
You have beautiful hands. I want to tell you, but I can't work up the words to the face of a stranger on the bus.

I watch hands a lot when people text, when people hold books, when people fiddle with their coats. Your hands are folded in your lap – so still.

You have very large hands for a woman, with long fingers. They aren't delicate. I wonder what you make with those hands; surely you must create something. They are hands for playing piano, or kneading bread dough, or carving wood.

When we get off the bus at the same stop, I notice that you are wearing sandals despite the cool, damp weather, and your toenails are perfectly polished in red. Your finger nails are plain: clipped short and tidy, with no polish. I wonder if you don't like bringing attention to your hands or if your craft demands practicality.

I hope you know that you have beautiful hands.
dreaminghope: (Cherry Blossom)
Though Autumn will always have my heart (apples! pumpkins! red and orange leaves dancing! cold nights for curling up in a blanket!), Spring is winning me over. I have fairly new seasonal allergies, which had been putting a damper on my love of cherry blossom season, but today made that all irrelevant.

The air felt sticky this afternoon; the gym was warm and humid. When I stepped out the door, there was this light misting rain and a breeze bearing the scent of cherry blossoms and baby leaves.

As I started along the walk to the bus stop, the rain began to fall harder, but it also got brighter out. I walked under a dark cloud edged by bright blue, nearly cloudless sky. I was moving under the edge of the storm; it looked like the rain stopped less than a half block from me. The rain was pouring down on me while the sun shone in my eyes. I turned and saw a complete rainbow arc, every colour bright.

The rain lightened as I crossed the street to the bus stop, so I found myself waiting for the bus with the finest of rains - more rain dripping off my hair than falling on to it - with the warm sun on my face.

I'm sorry, Autumn; I'm seeing Spring on the side. Just 'til you come back in September, I swear.
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
I have a problem with admitting when I don't know something, and I seem to encounter a lot of people who just assume I know the things that they know – I tend to just go along and hope I figure it all out. And I usually do.

I do it at work a lot. I have a lot of regulars, and all my customers know me because I'm the one who answers the phones and answers their emails and calls them back when they need to make last minute changes and I don't have to let them, but I do. When people call me at work, I act like I know who they are until I figure out who they are. When Dave Allen calls, I'm typing in "Allen" in the search box for my customer database as he says hello, and when it doesn't come up with any results, I wonder if it's under "David" or maybe "AllAn" instead of "AllEn", and that's when I realize that he isn't asking about apples or soy milk but is talking about RRSPs, which makes this Dave Allen, my banker, and not a customer at all, and it takes me another 30 seconds or so to shake my head into personal finance mode because I was so ready to talk about fennel recipes and this week's great deal on almond butter.

As far as I can remember, my mother-in-law has never told me what her health issues actually are, but she makes passing references to them. I know she can't eat seeds and that her feet are often cold because her circulation is poor and she's got swollen hands and she's often achy, but I don't know which symptoms are of a disease and which are the results of all the meds she has to take. There's been talk of colitis and lupus and arthritis – tests and theories – but she's never sat down and told me what's officially going on. She probably thinks Russ has told me, but he sometimes seems a little confused too.

My Mom's more of a straight shooter. When she was diagnosed with cancer, there was a full discussion of what that meant. Now, mind you, she didn't tell us about the cancer scare, but only once it was cancer, and I really think we all would have preferred to have been a little scared with her during the cancer scare instead of being thrown straight into the full terror of cancer – especially my poor sister, who found out first through a call from my mother's doctor – but that's my mother. She got her diagnosis and she laid out the plan: surgery – lumpectomy if possible; mastectomy if necessary – and if there's lymph node involvement, then chemotherapy and radiation and this dreadful drug that threw her into menopause and she got these hot flashes that was like an out of control sauna from the inside. And it was all laid out like a check list: cut, poison, burn, drug – check, check, check, check. It works with my Dad's way of being – the engineer in him isn't good with grays and hinting and suggestion. He likes lines and black and white; he ignores vagueness.

My mother-in-law's all vagueness, and it gets to a certain point where it feels really weird – really embarrassing – to straight out ask "What's wrong?" What's really wrong with your hands? What is your diagnosis? This is the disadvantage of faking it; if you don't figure it out, it's really hard to back-track, and say, maybe fifteen minutes into a phone conversation, "I'm sorry, who is this, please?"
dreaminghope: (Faerie Wings)
It's not raining anymore. And, for the first time in a week, it isn't dark as I leave work.

Deep breath. Clean fall air. The smell of damp decay.

The trees and the sunset are painted with the same fiery watercolour palette.

Deep breath. Wood smoke. Someone's got their fireplace lit. Cozy.

Deep breath. Pot smoke. Ah, East Vancouver.

Layers of leaves squish beneath my boots.

I hate leaf blowers. I'm sure there are times when they are genuinely useful, but I assure you that right after the rain stops is not one of those times. The leaves aren't moving because they are soggy. They are glued to the sidewalk. They are not going to move. Get a rake. Or a broom.

I'm two blocks past the noisy beast, and I can still hear it. Three blocks, and the whine continues in the background. It's more annoying than when the upstairs faucet breaks and I can hear it squealing in the bedroom wall when I'm trying to sleep and I have to ball my blanket up over my ears to try to block it out and all I can think is I just want it to be quiet again and though it's been quiet for a couple of weeks now, it's only a matter of time before Russ' latest fix fails and the squealing starts again and I wish I knew when Bath Fitters is going to come and fix it once and for all...

Five blocks, and I can't hear it anymore.

Deep breath. Onion, garlic, curry; someone's making dinner.

Deep breath. My mittens smell like wet wool.

Deep breath.

Witnessed

Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:06 am
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
It's a wet, wet morning in Vancouver. My boots leak.

I walk past a senior's semi-independent living facility every morning. This morning, two ambulances were pulling out of their driveway. No flashing lights; no sirens.
dreaminghope: (Cave Gargoyle)
It's that Vancouver Autumn rain. Even though my jacket is very waterproof, the chill creeps under my collar and I feel soggy. The man in front of me is smoking a cigar that smells like blueberry flowers, serving to make the day seem heavier and grayer compared to the summer scent.

There's a funeral home near the SkyTrain station at Broadway and Commercial. It's been closed and empty for awhile now, collecting graffiti tags while it waits for rezoning. The long awning over the front walk is still intact.

Today, someone is under the awning. He has a little room set up: a sleeping bag with a pillow and extra blanket, a box as a side table with a clock on it, even a little battery-operated lamp. He is sitting in the sleeping bag, cuddled down a bit, eating something hot out of a Styrofoam container.

The sidewalk is only a meter from the man's bedroom; it's like seeing someone through their front window making coffee or reading the newspaper in their bathrobe. Their real life going on and I see them and they don't see me. For a moment, his set-up looks cozy and almost normal. And than I become aware of the roar of rush hour traffic over wet pavement again, and I'm past the funeral home.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
Every second Friday, I volunteer for Quest Food Exchange in their store. Mostly, I clean. Often I clean things that haven't been cleaned in a very long time, because the staff's too busy and the other volunteers don't want to tackle the scum. While I scrub, I listen to people. Some of the time, they are even talking to me.

There’s always new people around Quest: customers I haven't seen before, of course, but also new staff people and volunteers. Volunteers sometimes only come once. I still haven't seen the ex-addict again; she helped me clean shelves one day and told me about coming from Ontario to Vancouver to get clean. She took a long bus trip across the country to come here, because Vancouver's so notorious as a Canadian drug center that she figured that if she can stay clean here, she can stay clean anywhere. I hope she's doing well.

This Friday, L.A. volunteered for the first time. He tells us repeatedly that he is from Los Angeles. He compares everything to Los Angeles. He talks. He corners another volunteer and tells her all about his political beliefs. And he talks. He tells one of the staff people all about the superiority of organic food. And he talks. He shares with us his opinions on Canadians, cell phones, food prices, green potatoes, and everything else that enters into his head over the course of four hours.

He is very sure of himself. He talks a little too fast and a little too loudly. He is completely confident of his every opinion, and no facts can sway him... mostly because he doesn't listen to them. He asks questions like he is interested in the other person, but everything is an excuse to talk about himself.

At some point, he corners another of the regular volunteers. The Seeker has been, among other things, a Hare Krishna, a Buddhist, and now he is a raw foodist. Maybe because of those things, or maybe despite them, he is a fun and sweet guy. He talks briefly about a meditation retreat he went on once: weeks of sitting all day, every day. L.A. is very inspired by this; inspired to praise The Seeker as incredibly deep and spiritual. The Seeker can barely get a word in edgewise. We never get to hear much more about his experience on the retreat, but we get to hear a lot about what L.A. thinks about The Seeker's retreat.

I also remove a layer of black scum from the edge of the freezer and old juice drips from the outside of the cooler. I think I learn more from that than L.A. actually learned in his whole afternoon of conversations.
dreaminghope: (Default)
In the morning, as I rinse my coffee mug, I see a chickadee on my back porch. Russ and I have seen him there before. He is almost completely round – a little feathered ball with a beak – so I'm not how he can fly at all, much less take off fast enough to escape the neighbourhood's feral cats. He pecks about, probably eating the crumbs from my breakfast. When I next go to the window, he is gone.

If I'd thought that I had any aptitude as an artist, I don't think I'd ever have become a writer. All I ever wanted to capture was moments. The trouble is, most people want narrative, so I tuck those moments away in the pages of a story. If I could draw or paint the way I see those moments in my head, I wouldn't have to write about them.*

As I walk along the street, a bald eagle soars over my head, disappearing just over the top of the two-story warehouse behind me. The cars speeding past me had no idea why I stop suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk and turn slowly to follow that eagle with eyes and wish. They may not even see me stop.

The cars also don't see the raccoon. A juvenile by his size, he looks like he has fallen out of a natural history museum display – he is frozen in position, no sign of trauma, as though he was walking along the sidewalk and then simply fell over dead. I saw him in the morning on my way to the gym. On my way home from the gym, someone had covered his face with a piece of paper.

My back deck is high and I can see over all the fences for houses around. The elderly Chinese woman next door has five items drying on plastic hangers scattered about her garden. She doesn't notice me lingering over a glass of wine when she takes them in.

Two fences over to the West, a man is building something. Something that involves a sheet of plywood as big as his porch. Something that involves frequent re-measuring and a lot of standing back and looking. He doesn't seem to have any power tools, and I don't think he is very accustomed to hand tools. The saw scriches through the wood three times, then he pauses to check that he is cutting straight. Scrich-scrich-scrich – pause. Scrich-scrich-scrich – pause. Then he moves on to hammering: bang-bang-bang – pause. Bang-bang-bang – pause. For all that he is close to twice my age, quite a bit larger than I, and male – he reminds me of myself.

Across the alley, someone seems to be rehearsing some sort of stringed instrument. The music drifts through their open window; it sounds like a higher pitched banjo. The melody wanders from song to song, pausing but never stopping.

As the sun begins to dip below the roofs, the house two yards to the East hums with an electric lawn mower – the first grass cutting of the season. I don't know how he justifies using an electric mower for his little strip of grass; it must be more work to pull out the mower and deal with the cord – he holds it high over his head most of the time – than it would be to use a little gas weedwacker or a manual mower.

At about five in the evening, the crows stop in East Van on their daily commute from Stanley Park to the suburban park where they roost at night. The electric lines are full of black wings and the air is full of their excited cries. They seem to be telling stories; I bet they know the best stories.

*Charles de Lint, "The Fields Beyond the Fields", Triskell Tales.

Where I am

Apr. 2nd, 2008 12:02 pm
dreaminghope: (Dancing Cat)
Where I learn that cookies won't keep you together

Two people who were customers of mine as a couple split up recently. He moved out, and she kept their old apartment and account. He opened a new account from his new apartment across town. They order the same ginger spice cookies in their deliveries every week.

Where I feel bad for the dog

The dog next door has a thick, tightly-wound tail that coils on his back. When he is happy or excited, his tail twitches like a snake dreaming of swallowing a fat mouse.

Where I am pedantic and get a new enemy

Someone called me "caustic" yesterday and told me that I must be a very unhappy person... or maybe it was a very angry person. To be fair, I was rather condescendingly correcting her grammar and spelling in an email at the time. I maintain that I was provoked: she works for a book publisher and she sent me an unsolicited sales pitch wherein she spelled the title of the book wrong, spelled "distributor" wrong, and neglected to use full stops on half her sentences (amongst other problems). In the final email of our correspondence, she told me that "grammer [sic] doesn't matter in emails", which is when I gave up - anyone who believes that good writing doesn't matter when selling a book cannot be saved.

Where I want the unwanted

This week, I keep encountering random cases of black jellybeans being used as a metaphor for something or someone unwanted and left behind. To that I say: Send me your black jellybeans. I always leave them for last because they are my favourites. I always like the underdog.

Where timing oneself by others gets confusing

I know that I am going to be on time for work when I pass Marionette Man at the corner of Hastings and Clark. We pass each other somewhere along Clark every morning. It is a non-encounter; we don't even nod to each other. All too often, I pass him many blocks farther up, as he turns off Clark towards his workplace and I start walking faster towards Hastings because I must be running late.

Today, I got to Hastings and Clark and Marionette Man was nowhere to be seen. He is distinctive: more than six feet tall, lanky and long-limbed, and his is arms only swing forward of his hips and his knees seem to bend too much. This peculiar rise and fall to his step makes him appear to be controlled by invisible strings and a not-entirely-talented puppeteer.

I finally saw him a couple more blocks along, turning on to Hastings from McLean. I wasn't early for work, so he must have been the late one today. I wonder if he knew that by when he saw me. I wonder if he'll notice when I'm not around for the next two weeks.

Where I realize that even if I write this in an email while in my office, it does not count as work, and I have far more tasks to complete than I have time to do them in as it is...
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
Today, there was the sweetness of the cherry blossoms on the cold wind; the same cold wind that tossed the fluffy snow in a swirling dance. Sometimes some pink petals would fall with the snow.

Flowers shivered and complete strangers stood together and wondered aloud at snow in Vancouver in March.
dreaminghope: (Quiet Gargoyle)
We're having a perfect autumn day. I walked to Main Street and went to an organic and fair trade café where the man behind the counter taste-tested the almond syrup before making my drink. He made my latté backwards – pulled the shots before steaming the milk – but it still tasted lovely. And he poured the milk so that the foam made a swirled heart on top. I drank the heart before putting my travel mug's lid on.

I sit outside of the café at a little ironwork table. I want to write – there's a certain mysticism to The Café as a place to write (or program) – but I end up just reading in the sun.

When I resume my walk, I pull my paisley hat down firmly against the fall breeze. When I get to the corner, I don't start walking at the light but wait until the bus comes to a complete stop. Buses in Vancouver often run red lights, and there'd be something just too silly about someone as bohemian-looking as I – paisley hat, tie-died dress, hemp shoes, naturally worn (out) jean jacket – being killed by public transportation.

There's no one out behind the Ivanhoe yet. I guess anyone drinking at noon on a Friday doesn't want to be out in the golden sun, even for a smoke. It isn't a place for business lunches.

A block down, at the next corner, there's a slick faux-brick condo building, six floors high. The top floor has a larger balcony with a wide cement wall for a railing. Someone has placed a gargoyle on the corner of the rail, overlooking the corner of Main and Prior. He is very easy to spot, but only if you look up; most people don't.

I sit on a short cement wall across the street, where the gargoyle can see me, and that's where I write.

I think about what the gargoyle can see. He can see the daily parade of buses and cars up and down Main Street. He can see the old Italian immigrants heading into the European Deli Warehouse – the import business and warehouse that almost burned down in the rash of arsons in the summer of 2006 – and leaving with their fancy cheeses and French sodas. He can see the sign that says "Welcome to Historic Chinatown" and the graffiti that offers the cryptic comment "I have never been out of love with the mall".

And the gargoyle can see the people who shoot up and who sleep under the underpass across the street. It must be frustrating to be a gargoyle – see it all, and never be able to do anything. It isn't demons we need protecting from anymore, but that's all he knows how to do.

I think about going into the deli warehouse, but entering a dark maze of rooms doesn't appeal, and we have a lot of cheese at home already.

I go home and read science fiction in the sun on my back porch while drinking a glass of red wine, and feel so decadent that it's like there could never be any despair in this beautiful city.
dreaminghope: (Cave Gargoyle)
Not too hot; not too cold. A pretty perfect Vancouver day, really. But it's a Monday; seeing the sun through an office window or warehouse door does put a damper on its beauty. The mood seems drab even if the weather isn't.

"Do you have any fruit?" comes a call from the gate across the front of our warehouse. It's a pretty routine request. The neighbourhood women know that if they come by in the morning, while the warehouse manager still has all the produce out, they'll get an apple or banana.

There are a number of different women who come by; they are all addict-thin and tottering on heels. They all walk the same way: like a poorly-controlled marionette, with arms and legs that move as if they aren't quite connected to the body.

The woman at the gate holds on by one hand and swings, loose-limbed. She is so thin that she looks pre-pubescent; her hip bones are visible above her skirt's low waist and her ribs are visible below her midriff shirt. Her face ages her.

The warehouse manager, The Brit, grabs an apple and heads to the gate.

"How are you doing?" he asks her.

"Can't complain," she says cheerily, "Thanks!"

He watches her trot away, munching her apple, back to her corner.

"'Can't complain'," he shakes his head.
dreaminghope: (Flying Demon Girl)
There was a man sitting directly across from me on the bus yesterday. We were sitting in the bench seats that face each other.

He was reading one of the city's many free magazines.

I was just looking at nothing in particular until I happened to notice that it looked like the zipper on his pants wasn't all the way up. Because of the way the pants bunched, I couldn't get a clear look, but it appeared that the zipper was halfway down.

Is there any way to tell a stranger that his zipper is down without him realizing that that means that you were looking at his crotch?
dreaminghope: (Squinty Puck)
It's not really a commuter bus because it is going against the flow of traffic, but there are two men in business suits on the bus, complete with laptop cases. One is silently lip-synching along with his MP3 player, complete with toe tapping and occasional air drumming. The other, with no headphones in sight, is quietly singing something that sounds like a country song, though I can't distinguish the words. I wonder what they are each hearing.

--

They got on at the same stop, but they obviously just met each other.

I can't see the younger of the two new passengers very well from where I am sitting, but I can hear her. English is definitely her second language. She seems to be in her mid-twenties.

"What do you do?" she asks the other passenger.

"I'm a writer. Well, I pay the bills using the sex trade, but I want to get out of that. It's shallow. It's just all really shallow."

"How old are you?" I don't think she understood the part about the sex trade.

"I'll be fifty-four next month."

"You have lots of tattoos."

"It's something I can give myself that no one can ever take away. I've lost a lot, but no one can take my ink."

"Are you a boy or a girl?" she asks bluntly.

"Some of both. Not really either."

"No, but, what are you really?"

"People always want you to be able to tick off either A – female – or B – male. I'm C – all of the above."

"All of the above!" the girl is delighted. I don't think her questions were meant to be rude; I think she's just honestly curious.

--

I noticed the Japanese mandarin box when I got on the bus because I love mandarins and they aren't in season right now. I didn't notice anything else odd about the box until about a couple of blocks later, when the contents started mewing.

The woman opens the box and removes a tiny orange kitten. She holds it close to her chest and it seems pretty content to stay there, but it cranes its head around, staring around the busy and noisy bus with big curious eyes. It doesn't seem scared at all, but it occasionally says "mew" loudly – well, as loudly as something the size of a medium-sized East Van rat can – as if to greet the other people on the bus. The woman holding the kitten tries to quiet it:

"Mew!"
"Shhh."
"Mew!"
"Shhh."
"Mew!"
"Shhh-shhh."

Shushing a cat works about as well as asking it to heel, so it continues to mew and she continues to shush until I get off the bus and walk the half block to my home.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
As I'm walking down the sidewalk, two kids are running towards me. Their father, or maybe grandfather, is half a block behind them, ambling, smiling at the kids and at the world.

The older of the two kids is a girl, maybe seven years old. She runs facing forward. She's focused, but not in the way that adult runners are focused. Adult runners are concentrating and pushing themselves; they are working. The little girl is flying. Any destination is arbitrary; the goal is only to feel the wind and to run because she can run and she wants to run.

The little boy who runs beside her is about five years old. He runs fast enough to keep up with his sister's longer stride, and he watches her as often as he looks ahead. He runs to be beside his sister; he runs to not be left behind.

I'm on my way to the Chinatown post office, some Swap-Bot postcards in hand needing US stamps. I'm forcing myself to walk at an unnaturally slow pace; it's my day off, and I'm trying to at least imitate relaxation. I've promised myself some ice cream on the walk home from the post office.

When I was little, we used to camp at Esker Lakes Provincial Park almost all summer, every summer. We'd set up our motor home once at the beginning of the summer, then Dad would drive up to camp with us on the weekend and then back home to work during the week. Mom, my sister, and I would stay at the camp ground, and walk to the beach, or the picnic site, or the hiking trails, or the cabin where they show movies at night. And once in a while, we'd walk to the park store.

The park store was magical. There was ice cream and candy, used books (mostly romances that park patrons would trade in when they were done with them), bug spray and necessities, and, one year, the owner made big stuffed animals that all the regular summer kids ended up buying at $10 each. My sister got a pig wearing a vest and I got a seal that I named Suzi. Suzi the seal lives in my craft room now, with Ogie the bear and Fred the dog.

The park store was a long walk from our regular campsites. Well, it seemed like a long walk to our little legs, anyway. And there was a long winding hill leading up to the store, getting you all hot and ready for your ice cream treat when you arrived. Sometimes I would get bubblegum ice cream. I liked that it was bright blue. Sometimes I would get an individual pack of Twizzlers, because I liked to bite a little off each end, then suck Twizzler-flavoured air through my Twizzler straw. Also, a package of Twizzlers lasted a lot longer than a chocolate bar or even a box of Smarties (the chocolate Canadian Smarties, not the American candy). I don't remember when I last had Twizzlers.

After Mom would do whatever errand she needed to accomplish at the park store and my sister and I would get our treats, we would head back to our camp site. If we'd finished our ice cream, or if we'd chosen something that would last, my sister and I would run down the long winding hill while Mom followed. I ran facing forward; running for the bottom of the hill, and running because I could and because I wanted to.

I haven't been looking ahead this weekend. I’ve been watching Russ instead. Friday night, we went to see The Average White Band - my anniversary present to him. I've never heard them before, except for the covers Russ plays with Leisure Lab. It was an excellent show; I loved watching Russ get so entranced by the music and so inspired by the sax player's solos.

Today, it was Russ' godfather's memorial. His great-uncle Geoff was 91 years old when he passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago, and today was the service. I had the honour of meeting Geoff several times, and he was a warm and happy man. Still, I was there for Russ, and I watched him just as much as I watched the pastor.

I walk back from the post office. I stop at the corner store and look at the ice cream freezer. There's no bubblegum ice cream, but there's some higher quality ice cream bars. I choose one of those, and walk slowly – as slowly as I can bear – homeward, thinking of the memorial service, of the band, and of kids running. Even though I walk alone, I don't look straight ahead.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
The streets and sidewalks are covered in cherry blossom petals, like there was a secret parade last night that no one swept up after.

A flock of bike riders play leap-frog with the bus. Every time the bus pulls into a stop, the bikes fly past on the left hand side – about a dozen blue jays, cardinals, canaries – chirping in the sharp voices of bicycle bells. They swoop back to the right, towards the sidewalk. Moments later, the bus driver gives a playful tap on the horn as she passes them again.

Old clichés and over-stretched metaphors are a little more forgivable in the Spring. Even a little madness is acceptable. The poet writes the image; the madman believes the image. The cyclists are birds and the petals are confetti, and I'll be both poet and madman tonight.
dreaminghope: (Thinking Zoey)
It is one of those gray and rainy Vancouver days that makes you wonder why you chose to live in a rain forest. At the coffee ship, two women of a similar age were sitting at opposite sides of a long table meant for three or four people. One woman nursed a tiny child; the other gazed vacantly at nothing in particular.

The mother sounded like she was continuing a conversation out of habit, not desire: "No grapes or peanuts; nothing that may have mold on it. One cup of coffee a day is OK, but no wine or beer; nothing fermented. I can have all the rice I want – lots of brown rice and vegetables – but no cheese; absolutely no cheese."

She paused. Her companion nodded almost imperceptibly. The silence stretched on for a long moment.

"Soy is good. I can have lots of soy milk. But no soy sauce; nothing fermented, you know?" the mother continued.

Not even a nod this time, but she didn't seem to expect one. Her companion looked out at the rain. The mother looked at her baby.

I wonder at the story of these two women and how they came to be having this non-conversation on a Monday afternoon. Perhaps they are friends just having an off-day, or maybe they are sort of new friends who don't know each other well. Maybe they had a fight, or they are old friends trying to reconnect even though they don't seem to have anything in common anymore. Maybe they have known each other so long that they are just bored with each other.

I feel very blessed that I have many friends who would at least pretend to care if I was to start listing the foods I can and cannot eat.
dreaminghope: (Happy Bug)
With apologies to those buried in snow – I don't mean to gloat – but in Vancouver, the weather is on the verge of becoming Spring. Despite dire predictions of gloom and rain, we had sun today. The crocuses are up and there are buds on the trees, but nothing is open yet. The whole city is about to have its fresh start; it's a good time to welcome a New Year.

Living on the edge of Chinatown was very convenient for enjoying today's Lunar New Year celebration. Russ and I took Russ' parents to see the big parade. Last year's crowd was estimated at 50,000 people; it was probably even bigger this year.

I am in love with the Chinese Lions. I've always had a thing for bright colours and almost over-the-top theatrics, and they bobbed along with a life that seemed separate from the dancers that were in the costumes. Some made their Lions rear into the air – the head dancer would jumped up and down from the shoulders of the back dancer. And I especially loved the littlest Lions – some of whom were probably just eight or nine years old – who just make me giggle helplessly with the adorable-ness of it all. They were dancing as hard as they could, except when they got distracted by watching the adult Lions around them.

At every pause in the parade, where a gap would form between groups, there seemed to be someone in a "volunteer" hat, tossing firecrackers into the street. The smoke was drifting along the whole route. I never did figure out where the periodic showers of confetti – big squares of colourful streamers – came from. A tall man near me got beaned by a candy thrown from a flat bed truck where a Lion lounged, only his wagging tail indicating that anyone was inside.

I loved the big drums being pulled on trolleys, and the way the gongs and cymbals sent vibrations right through me.

The little boy in front of me, who was visiting Vancouver from the Yukon, had handfuls of hard candies and of red envelopes with chocolate coins in them by the end of the parade. His mother received a fortune cookie; her fortune said "Happy New Year from Stephen Harper*". She carefully put the fortune in her wallet to take home with her. The hard candies were just sweet, with no real flavour.

Sometimes, we could have been in China. Sometimes, we could only have been in Vancouver. Amongst the Benevolent Societies and the Chinese Free Masons, the Lions and the Dragons, and the martial arts displays and traditional dance groups from all over the Eastern world, there were also the Asian Line Dancers (in vaguely Eastern dress with vaguely authentic cowboy hats), the Brazilian dancers in stomach-baring and frilly outfits handing out fliers for their Carnival next weekend, the hippy pick-up band of drums and horns that plays at Illuminares every year, and a couple of First Nations groups drumming and chanting.

We escaped the chaos of post-parade Chinatown for a late lunch. It was a little tricky freeing ourselves from the milling masses after the parade. We ended up completely encircled, with the crowds and the parade between us and home. We finally "salmoned" our way through an area that looked thinner than everywhere else. Then, to one of my very favourite restaurants: a vegetarian Chinese restaurant called Bo Kong.

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to the Year of the Pig!

*For non-Canadian-philes, Stephen Harper is our current prime minister.
dreaminghope: (Confused Zoey)
I have been a vegetarian for about a decade now. Since eating and socializing so often go together, at some point I mention my vegetarianism to most people I see more then once. Unlike my cousin, who is notorious within my extended family for having burst into tears over the Thanksgiving turkey during her brief time as a vegetarian, I try not to make a big deal out of my eating habits. A typical conversation would be:

"You have to try my beef stew! I always bring it to potlucks because everyone loves it."

"Oh, thank you – I'm sure it's great – but I'm a vegetarian."

The normal responses are "Well, more for the rest of us!" or "I also brought this veggie dip... no meat in there."

However, about a quarter of the people have a different reaction:

"I don't really eat much meat. Mostly just chicken and fish. Just a little red meat. I eat a lot of vegetarian meals at home, really."

I know some vegetarians are preachy, so I always assumed that the defensive reactions were trying to head me off lest I begin to lecture on animal rights or health concerns. Fair enough, really.

The other day, something reminded me of a funny commercial I'd seen on TV the night before, so I asked the person I was with if they'd seen the commercial.

"I don't have a TV, so I haven't seen it," she shrugged.

I wanted to say "I don't watch a lot of TV" (a blatant lie), or "I only watch TV while I'm crafting" (closer to true, but she wouldn't care), or "I didn't have a TV during university" (so what?), or "I watch a lot of TV because it makes me think less, and worry less, and then I don't get as worked up and anxious" (too much information).

I don't feel like watching a lot of TV is a healthy thing, but I do it anyway. I have it on in the background while I craft, while I surf the Internet and play on LJ, while I write, and while I nap.

I want to defend myself because part of me thinks that the girl who doesn't have TV is better then I am. She's right, but I don't want her to be. I don't want to have to change.

I said: "Well the commercial goes like this..."

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February 2014

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