Saturday, August 31, 2013

Exercise Postscript

At the end of a busy day of errands and domestic responsibilities, I crashed on the couch to watch an hour of a show I like and had recorded. I am a big fan of Foyle's War. Leon, as usual, claimed his spot on my chest immediately. At the end, I gently urged Leon off my chest, threw off the blanket and stood up and immediately felt a surging awful pain from my crotch down the inside of my right let. It was awful and I could not walk at all without significant pain.

I stretched, bent, had a warm bath and walked around the apartment as best I could. When I sat down, the pain came back with a vengeance. I went back into the bath and stretched some more. It can't be coincidence that I started exercising that day.

After about twenty minutes it ended, thank God.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Exercise Classes

Today I decided to try going to the Older Adult exercise classes at a local recreation centre. It's been, perhaps, a decade since I went to one.

When I arrived, there were four women in the room in their seventies. Once was very welcoming and, of course, that put me off. I assumed my usual position: behind a pillar and with my back to the room, looking out the window. The perky ticket taker identified me as a newbie; she asked me some health questions for the instructor. I told her I might not stay because I wasn't committed so I was telling the truth. I was going to leave if it were all women and there were too many perky people. I din't tell her why.

Victoria was the leader and she was instantly likeable. I liked her right away. There was one woman in trendy spandex who gave me the willies—people who seem too much into anything give me the heebie jeebies. In the end, we were about 25 people and there were a few men.

It was an hour and a half and there are Older Adult classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I did things earnestly; I think I was the youngest and fittest in the room. At the break, Ms Trendy Pants introduced herself and commented on my technique. I smiled and looked at the slightly overweight bedraggled blonde who looked like someone I would want to meet.

Victoria corrected me perhaps three times. Once, she complimented me. I bought a six-month pass and marked the times in my calendar hoping I will keep going.

Last night there was a very unusual and powerful thunder and lighting storm with rivers of rain pouring out of the sky. Today broke dark and damp but it was warm and not raining. Walking the twenty minutes to the community centre was lovely. The air was so clean. But walking home in semi-sun feeling the pride of having done a class and with the whole day ahead of me was, as the ads say, priceless.

Then I went for more fish to the aquarium and to Costco and home. A good day and tomorrow... sunshine again.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


 The nursery/hospital tank.

 The original tank. You can barely catch a glimpse of the gorgeous blue guppies but its there.

I thought fish would be just fish. But no, it is not that simple.

When I started my aquarium I had to get some "Starter" fish—hearty fish that could survive the swings of variance in the water as the environment "matures." Every day for the first several weeks, I had to add a little bacteria every day and the bacteria, together with the waste produced by the fish and the plant decay creates the perfect water for the fish.

Well when one of my starter fish died, I was crushed and that surprised me. After all, they were just fish. But they were helping me get started, these starter fish, and they were my allies so the loss of one was surprisingly affecting.(But then, I am sentimental and sensitive.) Imagine then, my joy in seeing the coloration of the three babies coming in and at least one is clearly the offspring of the one who died.

And my poor Betta, ravaged by my lobsters. The lobsters had to go. I did not get an aquarium to watch torture and murder. I do not want to see lobsters eating sushi. When I took them back, the store gave me some stunning guppies as replacements. But with the lobsters gone, I was shocked to see a trio of blue fish losing their fins. That was the excuse I needed.

Yesterday I got another tank—half the size of my first one. And it took me HOURS to catch the three blue finless fish to transfer them to the hospital/nursery tank. I am seriously hooked on aquaria.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Great Dinner

For John, my high school friend, and Bunny, his wife and my cooking mentor, I made dinner tonight following a lovely walk around the seawall. A great, great day.

A corn, onion, and pepper salad. All organic and all from the Farmers' Market.

My obsession. This is number five. I have making these down pat now.

The table.

Leon in the living room.

 The risotto ingredients all measured and ready.

The halibut on risotto and asparagus spears. And that's a pea/spinach puree on top, not wasabi.
 Steve (left, my ex) and three friends (including his current, Tim, right) at the Diné en Blanc in LA where they live.

 I am getting good at tartes aux pommes. I didn't glaze this one because I  burned the glaze but it tasted  very good. I've gotta adapt this recipe and see if I can make a tares aux pêches.

Suddenly its over, summer.... And melancholy sets in. My Spring and Summer were spectacular, largely because of the weather, and then in late July guests and asthma/bronchitis set in and my walking was highjacked by responsibilities. Now I am through it all. The guests are gone, the coughing is almost over and my summer teaching term is over. Now I am in a post apocalyptic stupor.

So what's ahead:
  • Six weeks of R&R before the Fall term starts.
  • Either a rejection or acceptance of my play for Pacific Theatre's 2014/15 season. Re-writing if it is accepted.
  • Implementation of the Getting to Know You fundraising campaign at PAL Vancouver (I am the campaign leader).
  • Mexico withe dear friends for ten days in December
  • France and Italy with BFFs Beth and Bruce in Spring 2014
Now I understand why the wise elders of literature and philosophy often advocate living in the present. Now that I am old, the connotations of "past" and "future" have changed so much that living in the present is just so much easier. And with the seasonal impact and melancholy of the end of summer so affecting me, today's walk around the seawall will be thoughtful. I am very conscious of time passing.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spud (or Bruno) Attack Liberace

Before. I haven't the heart to publish an "after" shot yet.

HIGH DRAMA:  I was doing some maintenance on my aquarium today when I noticed my beautiful Beta,  Liberace, desperately but unsuccessfully trying to shake either Bruno or Spud, one of my mini lobsters, off his flowing mane. I had to intervene. I am Jacque Clousseau, Beta whisperer. Poor Liberace's lovely lacy mane is in ruins and he will not go near the lower parts of the tank.

A Walk to Dwight's

Late in the afternoon it was lovely. Although there were clouds, there was plenty of blue sky and it was actually nicer when there was no sun as it was cooler. It is a beautiful time of day to walk, especially on a Sunday, as many people were on their balconies having cocktails or BBQ-ing with friends. We had a great home-made pizza dinner—Dwight, Laura, daughter Natalia, mother-in-law Marguerite, son Noah and brother-in-law, Tom.

 A home on 10th Ave. More below.

 I wish this photo were better. This is a stunning home.

Playing cricket.

Watching cricket.

(Above and below) Houses on 10th Avenue.

The daughter, Natalia!

The son, Noah, is off to Japan.

 The father (Dwight) is my psychological twin.

Marguerite, the matron, is a fabulous friend.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's like re-tuning a clock, coming back to my more solitary life and a life more at home. It seems like ages ago I was walking for several hours every day, but since David left I have had so many things to do (including recover from the worst asthma attack ever) and the weather turned to warm but cloudy. Here, sometimes, the seasons change as though someone has thrown a switch.

The change has mead me think about "what to do" in the Fall. Normally I, Mr. Project, have a writing task at hand. Not only that, my projects (books or a play) usually provide me with two years of "something to do." But when I came home from South Africa this past January with the end of my huge task of writing, producing, memorizing and appearing in my play before me, I vowed that when May came, I would try to live a year without a major writing project.

Instead, I am taking on teaching a charity "to fish"(for money). I have been giving this charity "fish" for a decade but teaching them how to raise money—creating the right infrastructure and changing the societal mind set—has become my goal. To that end, five colleagues and I are offering them a three-year commitment to carry out a plan we are proposing this week. I am head of the team. This is the name and logo I designed.

The Heron rookery in Stanley Park is abandoned now.

I planted this Silk Tree outside the office building where I worked when Steve and I split up in 1994. It is now huge and when David, the owner of the building to whom I gifted the tree went to prune it, a neighbour came out and chastised him for damaging a "heritage" tree. Am I so old?

That project will keep me busy. So will re-writing my play if it is selected for inclusion in season 2014/15 at Pacific Theatre. And so will teaching—one section of my course this Fall is already a go and the other is building in attendees. And last of all, and most important of all, my feline pal Leon and our new aquarium (Fish TV for Leon; aqua porn for me) will fill up my time.

My aquarium has one red shrimp (Tin Tin) whom I see all the time and two miniature spotted shrimp (Chip and Dale) that may be dead—eaten by one of my two lobsters (Bruno and Spud). I have seen one twice but they are reclusive. I also have 3 beautiful blue something-or-others (S-O-Os—I need to write the names down; they are The Blues Sisters and James Blue) that are the same (larger) size as two orange ones (George & Gracie) and one remaining black one (of two; Aretha). I also have one very showy Beta (Liberace), a school of five red-headed S-O-Os (Lucy 1-5) and eight mini-Guppies (The Brady Bunch).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Catching Up

On David's anti-penultimate day in Vancouver (Tuesday) had me propose the Nibobe Memorial Garden and Museum of Anthropology—they are both lovely cultural resources and close to each other and our dear friend Paula came with us. She drove; I was itching to walk but my guests did not want to use our feet.

The first four photos are all in the Nitobe Memorial Garden. 

Contemporary basket weaving.

 An open storage area of the museum. Most of its collection is viewable in cabinets and glass-covered drawers.

Above and below: The Great Hall of the Museum of Anthropology.

 David ponders shields from the South Pacific islands.

 Aboriginal masks from cultures foreign to BC.

 The lab of the Museum of Anthropology.

The Pacific Northwest basket collection storage room.

The three Musketeers: David, Paula and moi.

David Leaves

David just this minute left and I found myself quickly removing all traces of him right away. The water bottles to recycling; stuff to the trash; wipe the water he left on the counter away. He is a a brother and I am sad, sad, sad.

Monday, August 12, 2013


His name is Beau and he is three. His sister, Ava, is eight and she arrived wearing the most beautiful dress I have ever seen on a little girl. It was a pale yellow silk dress with baby blue embroidery. It was stunning like Beau's infectious smile.

I don't know what drew him to me but we were like two pools of mercury finding each other. We were at our friend, Dianne's for dinner, to celebrate Dianne's daughter who has her 28th birthday coming up and who was to sit for an interview for a curatorial residency in Berlin the next morning. And after a cloudy dark morning, the afternoon broke sunny and hot.

Beau and I became instant friends. He was on my lap for the rest of the night and I couldn't have been happier. Absolute delight in children is another aspect of life as an Elder that has caught me by surprise. I never disliked children, but now they are impossible to pass without touching like animals. A

That was in the evening. The day was spent in idleness with the New Yorker and doing errands leisurely. Also I made an old favourite salad to take: farrow, japanese cucumbers, heritage tomatoes, parsley, roasted pine nuts, olive oil, jalapeño, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The photos below are from friend, Dana.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reifel Wildfowl Reserve

I had reserved a car for David and I to use for Friday without knowing for certain what we would do. When he arrived (at 7:30 am!) we went for breakfast and I proposed that we visit the Reifel sanctuary but he said that he was not keen on birds. I persisted. I couldn't think of another natural site to visit, I told him, and besides there would be few birds anyway (it being high summer). Instead, I suggested he think of the trip as a chance to see local wetlands and to enjoy the adventure in our convertible. He agreed so off we went and we had a fabulous, fabulous time.

The reserve is on Westham Island in the delta of the Fraser River. It is operated by the Federal Government and was a gift of George Reigfel, the son of the farmer who settled on the land and made his fortune from logging Haida Gwaii.

Home near the reserve.

Fishing dock, lower Fraser River.

 A home on Westham Island.

The wetlands that border the reserve and expand between it and the sea.

The mating and resident Sandhill Cranes.

A form of Himalayan Blackberry I have not noticed before. It has spikey leaves and it tastes much less sweet than the other variety that grows everywhere here.

Her chest was like a wood burl. She is gorgeous.

A typical walk on a berm.

A juvenile Sandhill Crane. They were very, very friendly to us as there were almost no visitors to the reserve that day.

Four visiting juvenile Sandhill Cranes followed me first (above) and then David (below).

Tribute to Vincent!

Yellow Lobelia!