Monday, November 30, 2015


Today was for recovery after all the demands of preparing for Sunday night's dinner with five friends, so the morning was spent restoring order to my domestic sanctuary including lots of one-on-one time with Leon—he's a cat with demands.

Probably the nicest thing about today were the messages from my dinner guests that allow me to believe that a sincerely good time was had by all—including gastronomically.

Beth arrived at two for a walk. I took her 'round the False Creek seawall (via Bellagio's for afternoon sweet snacks) to Granville Island where we cruised some shops and we loved every minute of it. I got two hats, one of which is fairly dapper (for me).

We came home for happy hour and then went out for a Thai dinner together in the hood. Altogether a fabulous day. It is wonderful to have a great friend that I see ever day like when I was a kid with a best friend.

Here are my souvenirs of the day:

At Belaggio's. They are ice cream cakes. I watched
them being made.
This is frost on a log.

These (and below) are papers for sale at Paper Ya
on Granville Island. 

Sunday Night Dinner - I Go Over the Top

Over-the-top for me, that is. I get "A" for effort for this meal to welcome a guest, Beth, to Vancouver (from Toronto). The rest of the guests were, for me, spectacular. It was my second meal with fabulous people of accomplishment this week. Nicola Cavendish, Shari Ulrich, high-school friend Tara Cullis and bosom buddy Bruce Kellett.

I love cooking, especially on a sunny day. My kitchen is a solid wall of glass above the counter facing south-west. The winter light comes in like arrows and the food and my cooking looks fab-u-lous! How it tastes remains to be experienced, but it smells and looks good.

The Tourtière took forever to weave the pastry. You can see the top weave in the photo below and in the shot below that, you can see the weave of the body of the deep-dish pie—it fell apart a bit when I transferred it to the serving dish from the oven.

Pommes duchesse, but mine are half-parsnip. I have some
learning to do when it comes to piping potatoes.
Caramelized onion and fennel, chard, capers
and Kalamata olives.
The first course was a scallop salad with
frisée and pea shoots.
Dessert was apple cakes with Maple Sugar sauce
and whipped cream.

My gifts for Beth:
  1. A fortune from a fortune cookie I got that says: "Joy will come with the return of a dear friend."
  2. A poem I wrote (she loves shopping at Goodwill in Toronto):
Although a sip of champagne makes me frail,
Too much gives me the courage to prevail
And deliver a toast
To the gal we love most:
To Beth! Good health and all hail. 
I'm not finished. I want more champagne. 
So Beth,
Join your host, this happy gay male,
Raise your glass with another cocktail.
As all of your fiends
—who hope this soon ends—
Toast the Queen of the Rummage Sale.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I am Siddhartha

A recurrent word in discussions with Western practitioners of Taoism or Buddhism is “Detachment.” Siddhartha, the Buddha, is the poster boy for detachment. His story is about a solitary quest for enlightenment that comes to him when he is alone and where he has been solitary for a long time under a Bodi tree. Hmmm.

Gazillions of people globally are sitting in the lotus position aspiring to His mental state—or as close as they can get. Not me. I have never lotused and never will. Mention yoga and I run from the room.

Still, I have always admired the principles of the Buddhist faith, as I understand them. In fact, I have spent a lifetime aspiring to belong to a faith. But the devoted adherents of every faith whose speech is always so full of their specific spiritual vocabulary are alienating. Houston, we have a conundrum.

The endless solitude of my retirement gives me a lot—some might say, too much—time to think. And not just think, but think about myself and my life…. Dangerous territory. But this morning, I have awakened “enlightened” after only a few hours under a down quilt.

I am a loner. I have never fit in but I have made fast friendships easily and love my friends. I am the ultimate loner because I have no family and for my whole life I have seen that as a problem—but no more. As of this morning I feel detached not lonely.

They say, “It gets better.” Joan Rivers said: “It doesn’t get better. You get better.” I’m with Joan.


Click to enlarge. Read where the arrow points Canucks!

I love Egyptian art especially things pertaining to the rein
of King Akhenaten. In a culture with a long history of rather
linear design, he brought fluidity and softness. These are his
lips. Sadly, when I got to Egypt (having bought my tickets
months in advance, I got there for the civil unrest in Tahrir
square and the museum had been looted and was in chaos.   

Akhenaten again. 
Ultimate perfection in marble, no?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

GIFFing Your Favourite Photos

I learned something fun and new this morning.

I was awake at 3:00 am!! I didn't get up until 3:45. Still, this is the old me. I can't sleep when I am excited and I am very excited about all the cooking I will be doing today and tomorrow—and the dinner party I am having tomorrow night.

Up early, I wanted to play so I went into iPhoto and flagged my two recent series of snapshots—feet on the ground and little Fall things in my fingers and a bunch of shots of flowers I have taken. When I went to see all my flagged images, I did something I have never done before and that was to go to "Share" and chose "Set to Desktop" and now I have a slideshow of a few of my favourite images on my desktop. I love it. All the images are so big and bright.

Then I took the two series and combined them into a poster that I am going to print for fun.

Click to enlarge.
And then I went to this site on the web that very easily allows you to turn your favourite photos into a GIFF. It's super easy. And here are the gifts I made:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Glass & Customer Service

Glass is a miracle. It’s fused silica (sand) that mimics obsidian, nature’s glass. It, and marble, are the two sculptural media I love (when not created by Jeff Koons). I was born this way. It’s a warm, welcoming and jubilant medium.

I love daylight sunshine, summer, long days and the warmth of light on my skin and no medium can capture my love of light better than glass.

So…..Today I went to the Circle Craft store on Granville Island and I bought three glass bowls—more about the bowls in a minute. First, I want to tell you about two recent sales experiences.

Yesterday I went to Ming Wo. I was really looking forward to it because I patronize their headquarters in Chinatown. It is the best place to go and I have always found the staff very helpful and friendly. Going there reminds me of the joy I felt as a kid going to the art and craft store.

But this time there was a middle-aged thin female supervisor there who came to my attention being shrill and cold to a customer on the phone. Worse, in the ten minutes I was there, she was extremely—and I mean extremely—rude to two employees. I fled, happy not to speak up but I wanted to tell her how nasty she was and how unpleasant she made my experience in the store.

Back to the bowls….

I love shopping at Circle Craft too. Buying there, from their carefully curated and very eclectic collection, makes you feel so good because you are supporting a society and local crafts persons of incredible talent.

Today, the woman serving me was clearly happy to see my happily spending five hundred bucks. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her about glass and their inventory. She was a delight, warm and smiling a constant welcome. Then, somehow, she suddenly knew who I was. She asked me if I was Chris and when I said I was, she told me that I taught two high school subjects to her husband, Kim, a young man I really liked.



The police scared the bejesus out of me today. They issued a warning about sucker punches. (Press report here.) There have been ten in the past year—three of them fatal and two leaving the victims alive but forever severely altered.

All of these attacks have been in our “entertainment district,” two blocks from where I live and on a street I regularly walk.

The attackers are usually drunk, from out of town and involved in an altercation at the time of the attack. All the attacks have been on innocent bystanders and all the attacks have occurred at night. Two of the victims have been seniors.

Thirty years ago, I was held up and forced to drive at knifepoint to a hidden location by a madman. For twenty-two minutes, I felt nothing but terror then, when a garbage truck came by, I took my chance.

With blood and tears streaming down my face, I screamed at the garbage men for H-E-L-P and they did not stop. They called out to me, “Call the police.” And they drove away.

To this day, I feel nothing about my attacker. He was crazy; I excuse him. The police charged him with kidnapping (minimum: 25 years). I never went to therapy and I should have to process the deep, passionate loathing I have for the garbage men.

After the event, I went to work. I was explaining my state in a good mental space. I can remember everything about the room I was in. But when my friend David arrived and called out Hello from the hallway, as soon as I heard his voice I exited this world.

I went somewhere. I remember nothing. My coworkers called the police and they brought me back to a state wherein I could see and speak. They wanted to know things about what had happened obviously. They were faultlessly kind and compassionate and I felt nothing but love. One of them had been a student of mine in junior high.

I returned their kindness in my tone and I remember I kept touching one of them, but I was still a wreck. I recognized that they were doing the right thing as they asked me questions about the man and all he had said and done, but I explained to them that I really had no interest in catching them.

I explained that punishing him would do nothing for me. Instead, I explained that I wanted to go to the Vancouver Rape Centre where I felt women would understand my terror and comfort me. I still wish I had done that. I wanted comfort, not retribution.

The police were concerned about other people, not me. Keeping the crazy man away from more people but I was concerned about myself I am ashamed to say. I needed help first before I helped others. But I persevered.

I could not go to court. But if I didn’t I would be charged with contempt. It still seems unfair to me that you are forced to face your attacker. Can you imagine my empathy with victims of rape? It is deeper than deep.

It felt scary on the street last night. And I only went half a block to the 711.

My condo is my heaven. I live less than a block from the hospital where I had my tonsils out at age four and I am a 30-minute walk from the hospital in which I was born.

These idiots are coming in from out of town. They have seen this sucker-punch craze reported on TV. They are copy-cat criminals and some of them are killers. It scares me.

My father used to beat me—not too often, but with an uncontrollable anger and spewing venom—and I grew up in fear of men who might discover I was gay. Gay bashing and bullying was big back then. So it is hard to be tough. It is hard to overcome fear. I am an introvert. But  I cannot let these testosterone and liquor-filled assholes that sucker punch innocent civilians drive me from my home 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

US Thanksgiving Walk

Steve, my ex, Skyped from LA this morning and it was an excellent start to my day. He is a dear friend who knows me very, very well. His advice and insights into my dilemmas and behaviour are always spot on.

After our talk I went to Ming Wo, a favourite cooking store. I love the place, but boy, there was a woman—clearly a person in authority—who was rude to a caller on the phone and two staff members when I was there. I fled rather than speaking up in defence of her staff. Ming Wo just lost a fan.

I took the long route along the seawall to Chinatown, visited the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden, the first authentic classical Chinese created outside Canada. They have these perfect gifts there: Glass eggs, hand painted on the inside, for only $12.

On my walk, I took these photos of vibrant fall foliage: