Sunday, September 29, 2013


Today with my friends Ashlee, Dianne, Dawn-Rae, Jane and Dana, we talked about the art business and, in particular, curatorial language. Imagine my delight in finding out how one high school is dealing with graffiti:
Click on the image to enlarge it.

If My Hip Doesn't Get Better ...

... you are going to get a lot of crap that I find on the internet.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Anniversary Cruise

Much champagne for Tory and Keith's anniversary. A truly lovely crowd and a total delightful day. I barely knew anyone but the warm and fabulous Lynn DuMoulin was there and I always thoroughly enjoy her and Tony's company. Tony was at a board meeting.

This is the Seraphina. We were 24 on board today.
 This is the main salon on board. That is a TV behind the whale painting.

 This is the flying bridge; one of two control centres.  It is the third floor and has a mini bar and bar-b-q.

One of three heads.

 The "back porch."

The control cabin and kitchen.

Coming home after a lovely cruise of 2.5 hours.

Analytics Orgy

Very few people have this address — just a few close friends, but inevitably some stranger happens on your blog and suddenly you get an unexpected and dramatic increase in visits to your blog.

On another of my blogs related to my work in the visual arts, I've had three "viral" posts. By that I mean posts that someone Tweets or posts on Facebook or something so that my normal 200 hits per day suddenly become 3,000 hits per day. Once, for a brief period, my old blog Eye Candy suddenly started getting thousands of hits per day just in Poland.

Recently on my business blog, I wrote about how much I hate music on visual art websites and that went "viral" (on my scale of activity), garnering 500 - 600 hits per day for months.

This is a very modest blog. It gets 10 - 15 hits per day, but yesterday I noticed that my post with photos of my peach tart with "tarte aux peaches" written on it in pastry drove 124 hits yesterday.
The video above is of a song I fell for listening to my favourite radio station in Lyon, France. Let Her Go is a  huge hit in Europe because of a Dutch DJ named "Dave" who heard the song on an obscure album by a young singer songwriter who calls himself "Passenger." It is moving to watch Michael Rosenberg (Passenger) always credit Dave at every performance because this video for Let Her Go has over 99 million hits now.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why There is Liturgical Worship

My adoption was brokered by the Catholic church and I grew up "believing" in God and that if my faith wavered, that I might be recalled to the orphanage by God. But I could not believe and I rejected everything and ever since I have missed having faith.

I don't like what man has done to the rituals of faith and when I discovered this quotation from
Andre Dubus’s short story, A Father’s Story (thanks to Andrew Sullivan) it resonated:
Each morning [at Mass] I try, each morning I fail, and know that always I will be a creature who, looking at Father Paul and the altar, and uttering prayers, will be distracted by scrambled eggs, horses, the weather, and memories and daydreams that have nothing to do with the sacrament I am about to receive. I can receive, though: the Eucharist, and also, at Mass and at other times, moments and even minutes of contemplation. But I cannot achieve contemplation, as some can; and so, having to face and forgive my own failures, I have learned from them both the necessity and wonder of ritual. For ritual allows those who cannot will themselves out of the secular to perform the spiritual, as dancing allows the tongue-tied man a ceremony of love.

Same Love / She Keeps me Warm

I grew up listening to pop music and although I like many musical forms, I love pop and Macklemore's video One Love with Ryan Lewis and featuring Mary Lambert is a huge emotional tug when I listen to it. This morning, I discovered that Ms Lambert had made an extended version of the bridge She Keeps Me Warm that she did for Macklemore. Music is such a fabulous ambassador; watching Macklemore perform Same Love live in Montréal with Tegan and Sarah always brings me to tears.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Terminated Again

The first time I was fired was in 1983 and it really hurt. I felt betrayed by the people whom I had brought into Presentation House. Of course it was worse because the firing was illegal and that led to the equally painful process of filing a complaint to "win" compensation. My board fired me me for fiscal imprudence but the minutes of the society proved my innocence and the culpability of the board.

The next time I was fired was in 2004 when I was fired from Emily Carr University (where I now teach). That time, I was fired "without cause" and got a nice separation package because they were restructuring my department.

I "invented" the Opus Framing & Art Supplies Newsletter. I chose its large format and the basic principles of its contents: an art news section, a provocative editorial. And I fought to limit the advertising. I started the newsletter for Opus because my insightful boss at the time, knew to take the business into direct mail advertising. It was launched in the summer of 1986 and I have written the editorial ever since.

In March of next year, edition #300 will come out and it will be my last after 27 years. My boss wants us to have lunch and plan what the last editorial will say. I chose and wrote the other 299 editions myself so I am not keen to meet. I know what he wants. He wants some kind of "It's been great; goodbye and good luck" kind of thing. I don't want to do that.

I want my last column to be no different from any other with, perhaps, a sentence or two at the end saying: "It's been great; goodbye and good luck." I will find a compromise.

When my first play was produced this past April and I had my first professional stage appearance (in the central role), I was shocked to discover how profoundly reluctant I was to take my curtain call.

I spent my whole life dreaming of being an actor and I always thought the curtain call would be like seeing God. I thought it would be a spectacular experience to be out there soaking in one's glory, but no. I wanted nothing to do with the curtain call when the real experience called for it.

And in the same way I do not want to provoke any "thank you" or "goodbye" emails by writing a column that draws attention to me. I like people to think about my words not the writer just as I wanted my audiences to be left with the  performance and not end with "me" out there as myself for the curtain call. This is what being an introvert is.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


When I worked in the arts I had to do a lot of fundraising. Fundraising meant many things: writing letters of appeal to people, foundations, corporations and grant-giving agencies, putting on events and stalking rich people to sit on my boards of directors.  I hated it but I was good at it.

Now I am being for PAL Vancouver the board member I forever prayed for whilst working in my past. I have raised $91,000 for PAL over the past eight years and I actually have come to love doing it —  largely because I am a volunteer; it is not a job. If I fail, no one can rag at me.

And I am a bit of a loner. At school, I preferred solo projects to group projects. With PAL, I couldn't stand board or committee meetings.Too many people were all talk and no action; too many people voiced opinions were more about their egos than our purpose so I preferred to do fundraising for PAL alone.

Recently, I reached a point of frustration with PAL. I lost confidence in some of the decisions they were making and not making so I contacted the committee head responsible for special events and individual donations and asked for a meeting. That meeting has led to a wonderful outcome.

I wrote about my friend Dawn's and my proposal to launch a fund-raising campaign for PAL called Getting to Know You a few posts ago (Another Time Waster) and today it launched with the first meeting of the Campaign Team at my house. I am co-chair with Dawn as we get started; Dawn will have less and less to do as it unrolls and I will have more and more to do.

Dawn has led an arts organization that implemented the development model we are following so she is our campaign strategist. I am the working body. I lead the rather large group of board and resident volunteers who are going to execute the plan and I am really excited about being part of a team.

it began with my play, Knock Knock. A team put it together and staged it. I was at the centre of the team, as I am with Getting to Know You but in rehearsal and with this campaign, I am not the architect and that really appeals to me. In rehearsal, the director was the boss; with Getting to Know You, Dawn is the boss.

All my life, I was the boss. I was either the head of the whole organization or the head of a department with staff. Not being the boss, but being a primary organizer and executor, is wonderful. As we get going, I may experience frustration as more and more people get involved, but I believe in our plan and if it works, I will be very proud and happy. The Getting to Know You campaign is teaching PAL how to fundraise and I think this education is more valuable to the society than the $91,000 I have raised to date.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad Hip, Sick Mind

I tried walking today — not a good idea. Clearly, it is going to take a long time for my hip to get back to normal. So what do I do.... I go to YouTube. And what do I find...?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

When You're Stuck At Home, You Bake

F#@*//$%#@#ing Hip Pain

Love at first sight on a recent walk of the seawall. My Dad had a boat like this that I used to go out in often. Ahhhh.

 These jars decorate a bead store window on Fourth Avenue.

It has to have been the fitness classes. 

Today is Saturday. I am cooking dinner for friends and on a break. Beside me, my cane. Two days ago, I could not bend over nor bear to have my left leg behind my hip. I am slowly getting better and actually missing my fitness classes and the inspiring and friendly teachers.

I go everywhere by transit. The cane sometimes earns me a seat. 

Last night I went to see The Foreigner at Pacific Theatre with Cindy, my play's strongest advocate. I had one fabulous time. Everyone knows and likes Cindy, so I get a free ride on her popularity. Theatre critic, Colin Thomas was there and we had lots of laughs. He is the finest of men and we both thoroughly enjoyed the show. It is a clever script.

I met the dramaturge and Ron, the artistic director and they are both wonderfully open, warm people and they are the people who will decide if Pacific Theatre will do my play.

Just made a rather great salad: Diced kohlrabi, red lentils and couscous in a curry and garlic dressing, with chopped green onion and mint. I'm serving that as a first course with a little wedge of veggie/cheese flatbread. For the main: halibut in prosciutto (again) on risotto with asparagus. And of course, for dessert, a peach tart—but check it out...I made little letters of pastry.

I love being retired even if my hip hurts like a spike in the bed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Other Time Eater

Click on the image to enlarge it.

My friend Dawn and I have been really busy working on adapting a fundraising model developed in Seattle to serve my favourite charity, PAL Vancouver. The PAL board of directors approved of our proposal this past Monday night. This is the first individual fundraising campaign at this charity that has been professionally designed; I have been frustrated by past fundraising decisions of this group, so this is a very fulfilling development.

Now the hard part starts. Implementing the plan Dawn and I have worked so hard to develop and see approved by all the stakeholders of the charity's community.

Where I've Been; Part One

I went to the lung clinic because my asthma has been rough this summer and I had to go to emergency at the same hospital as my clinic, so they advised me to go.  My appointment began most pleasantly—a beautiful young intern was working with my pulmonologist, Dr. Darscheid.

When I sat down, she asked me: "How was the surgery?" I said: "Wrong file, I'm Chris." That's how I found out a specialist I went to recommended the surgery that is somehow supposed to improve my breathing.

The rest of the appointment was routine. Part of it involved doubling my intake of my inhaler which means I will go through each puffer twice as fast and my then current puffer was almost empty. So the next day, I went to the pharmacy to get a refill. They said they couldn't give me one because my prescription was expired. So I walked to Dr. Darscheid's office. He is only there, one day a week.

Back to the pharmacy and they complete a form and fax it to my GP.

Two days later, with no medicine left in my puffer and the weekend pending, I called the pharmacy to find out that my GP had not yet approved the prescription. I call the GP. They can't renew it until the GP talks with the pulmonologist. Meanwhile, anxiety makes the asthma worse. SO I go back to the pharmacy hoping they will provide me with an emergency supply, and they do. I almost wept with relief.

Why didn't that happen at the fist visit to the pharmacy? Friday I go to see my GP so that he can give me a new prescription. We have a fabulous system but given my experience I wonder how single people of limited capacity cope with so bureaucratic and prone to break-down our system is.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monday - Wednesday

Monday was a good day, not only because of the incredible sunshine and warmth, but because having started these morning fitness classes (for seniors) is reminiscent of going to school. The class starts at 9:15, so I am out the door a little after 8:30 am, and at that time of the morning, the air smells so good the birdsong is so bright and there is hardly anyone on the streets. And although I cannot say I like the class, I know it is good for me and I love the leisurely walk home in the heat.

Also, although I find it very hard to believe, after only one week of classes, I can see results—there is definition in some parts of my arms and chest that was not there before and my posture is improved.

When I began going to fitness classes around 1980 and I started by going to classes at the local Community Centre. I progressed to private clubs that offered more classes and greater diversity of activities. I stayed with the classes until around 2000, but then I stopped.

Now I am back at the Community Centre and I couldn't be happier. It is so very much more relaxed, human and fun at the centres whereas at the private clubs you get overexposed to all that is revolting about testosterone.

"How was your surgery?" The lovely woman asking me the question was a resident assisting my pulmonologist, Dr. Dorscheid. I told her that she must have the wrong file and gave her my name.

"No, it says here that Dr. Mann recommends some surgery and I can see the CT scan here that he ordered. Do you remember getting the scan?" Of course I did, I have breathing not cognitive problems doctor, but I have had no surgery.

That was how I found out I appear to be headed for some surgery inside my head to help my breathing. APparently something went wrong with communications, so Dr. Dorscheid will be contacting Dr. Mann to reignite my case.

I spent all day in an altered state. I can't stand the thought of surgery but my every experience with it has been so amazingly positive: I had a dead arm revived, I had my breathing hugely improved with surgery almost 30 years ago, I had a finger reattached, etc., so if it is true and I am offered a surgical solution, I know I will take it.

I began writing for Opus Framing & Art Supplies in 1986. I invented their newsletter and have been writing its editorial ever since. It has won awards for cultural journalism and won me awards for my service to the local arts community. The job changed my life.

Yesterday, I got an email from my boss there, Scott, inviting me to lunch. We often have lunches, but it has been a while. We were going back and forth trying to find a date that worked for both of us and it wasn't being easy and because it was him who was so eager to get together, I got suspicious—it is usually me wanting to get together and it was always because I wanted something.

So I wrote back: "If its about the cheque, just mail it. If it's about firing me, just call me." Well he didn't call, he wrote back amazed at my prescience. My contract—the best gig of my life—will end in March.

For about 40 minutes I was sad/angry/hurt, then my wits levelled me. It had been a very long and happy relationship that opened innumerable doors. I will be forever grateful to Opus.

Then I noticed one of my favourite fishes was likely dying and it was probably my fault from overfeeding. I felt awful and it has been a surprise to me how much my affections  have been triggered by my little wet and beautiful friends. As I write this on Thursday morning at 6:30 am, it is dark and I fear that when I go in to feed my friends this morning, one will be on the bottom.

But I am an adult. I did not over-react. Then my friend Sue called to tell me our mutual dear friend is in hospital with a blood clot in her lung and congestive heart failure in both ventricles. After that news, I need to get into the healing sunshine, so I walked to Costco to get two inhalers.

At my Tuesday appointment, Dr. Dorscheid doubled my dose of inhaled medication so I will be going through my puffers twice as fast and I only had two more days of meds left at that rate. Hence my trip to Costco.

The walk was good. It calmed me, but when I got there I found out that my prescription was expired, so I walked all the way back to Dr. Dorscheid's office to discover he is only in once a week and that the day before was his day for the week. I won't bore you with how complicated it was to sort out getting a prescription. Instead I will just say that when I got  home, soaking wet from sweat on a hot, hot day, and frustrated, I discovered my favourite watch had fallen out of my bag somewhere en route and that took me down. I slid into the worst mood I have experienced in years. It was not a great day.

It ended decently as I ate a fresh pesto dinner in the stunning sunshine, finished The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and then watched the absolutely fabulous Maxine Peake bring extraordinary life to QC Martha Costello in Silk, a brilliant TV series in which she plays the lead character. The show is brilliantly penned by writer, Peter Moffatt.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Saturday & Sunday

Saturday was spent mostly reading. I am really enjoying reading The 100-year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. It is hilarious and his writing style (and the translators) is unique and adds to the hilarity. 

But Sunday was a beautiful day for a nice long walk (see map above). There is something magnificent about this time of year—warm as summer but the smell and look of Fall. But its what is in the mind that so affects my feelings; it is the consciousness of coming winter that is part of it, but there is also something cozy and deeply fulfilling about the change in season. Anticipation is always positive in my head. The approach of Fall brings memories of returning to school and renewal to my mind.

Walking to my morning fitness classes is a joy in this wonderful invigorating weather.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How NOT to Start Your Day

It was just before 5:00 am; I thought some commercial driver delivering groceries was having a drug-induced breakdown and playing with his horn. It was as loud as an earthquake and when he wouldn't stop, I got up to see ALL of Davie Street full of flashing lights, fire trucks and police. NOw, 50 minutes later, there are rivers of water on the road but it is winding down. I have no idea which store on Davie burned, but it brought back memories of when the office I worked in was destroyed by fire.

When our office burned, it was me the fire department phoned. A friend drove me to the fire and on the way I actually threw up with anxiety that my heater may have caused the fire (it didn't). It was days before I could stand to  breath in the building in order to retrieve papers and effects that remained. And it was  heartbreaking to see the effects. Until it happens to you, you have no idea how emotional a fire is. I was finding smoke-stained things for years in my files.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Seriously Busy Day!

The cat wakes me at 5:00 am. He is hungry. I get up to feed him and then can't go back to sleep. I get up and answer a few emails. I bathe, tidy the apartment and finish reading a memoir by dear friend, Beth.

Then I clean both aquaria and change the water. Several of my females are about to burst with babies. Then I make a corn salad that I love to eat but hate to make. Arthritis makes gripping the corn cob hurt whilst I carve away the blanched kernels for the salad. Then I wash all the floors. I do this now regularly to minimize dust and coughing.

Then I make a shopping list and go to Granville Island. I do my shopping and then I meet my friend, Mog, for coffee. Then home in a lightning storm to eat. Then I measure and prep all the ingredients I need to baste the halibut and risotto in the morning.

I clean up and then start on the tart. My first tarte aux pêches: cooking the pastry shell, making a peach glaze for after making an almond paste and then more arthritic food gripping to slice all the peaches. But the end result looks good.

What I hate about my new hobby of baking is that so often you can't taste what you have made until you serve it. Also, I improvise on recipes and so that robs me of confidence as well. My courage to go on comes from asking myself: "How can you go wrong with butter, sugar and almond flous?" This is for friends coming tomorrow night so I am making it tonight in case if flops. The peaches are very juicy and that can make things challenging.

It's now 10:00 pm and I haven't been still all day except for my coffee with Mog. But the tarte aux pêches is looking good!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Class First

This summer I only taught one section of my course at Emily Carr University. The last class is always great because we see everyone's work which we are not allowed to see during the run of the course. It is always a very "up" class that is always fun and moving. This term, one of us took a photo of the rest of us. That is the fist time a photo has been taken. I am there on the right.

Will I or Won't I?

Will I or won't I be able to do my show again? Will or won't I have to rewrite, yet again, the story of my life? Will I or won't I have to write music again? Soon I will have an answer to these and so many other questions. Soon I will hear if Pacific Theatre will choose to do my play as part of their season 2014/15.  I feel, right now, like a high school graduate with a hopeful application in to Harvard.

This blogging, baking, walking, volunteering, reading and aqua porn are all designed to keep me away from the keyboard. I am working hard every day not to write so that if my play is chosen, I will work on that. I do not want to start something that I have to stop in order to go back to re-writing the play. I am a one-thing-at-a-time kind of guy. Soon my path will be clear.

Sometimes when I am walking, I wonder if one day late this year or early next year I will be walking to the theatre to do seven or eight shows a week for three weeks. I have built a theatre that is now operating in its fortieth year. I have commissioned and produced an original play that got rave reviews and toured Canada, but I have never done anything as satisfying as having a play that I have written, produced by a (great) professional theatre. And more than that... being the feature player in it.

And if it happens, I will be 66!

Monday, September 2, 2013

To the PNE and Back

Yesterday was a truly fabulous day. I woke up happy, knowing that the day was going to be gorgeous weather and with a plan for the walk to the PNE (Pacific national Exhibition) and back. Whereas once the PNE was a grand, huge agricultural fair, it is now a fraction of its original size but it remains a fun day at the end of the summer.

As a kid, I would go to the huge and MGM-like PNE parade that would open the fair. That no longer exists, and whereas once there was a huge section of the fair devoted to crafts, animal husbandry, home cooking and floral arrangements, all that is gone. Now it is a mixture of Vegas and gluttony.

I left home at 9:00 am and it was a treat walking through town early on a Sunday morning. I had the whole of downtown to myself. I arrived about twenty minutes early, but Dianne had also arrived so in we went with the opening crowd. We just meandered through an overwhelming experience that neither of us were really interested in. We people watched, ate and had a ball. Then I walked back home.

It was THE best way to end the summer.

This is a skytrain station downtown and there are usually huge crowds here, but this Sunday morning downtown was a wasteland. 

The gate at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Garden.

I love the Mediteranean feel of these two places (above and below) on Francis Street. 

Crabapples line parts of Francis street.

 Hideous beauty.

 Dude, like my hair?

 This little piggy was hungry.

 This one was tired.

 These ones were in heaven. I Couldn't love an animal more.

 Scotland not only gave us this, they gave us Haggis.

Dessert fries?