Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rich Sunday

What a great day. I LOVE the Arts & Letters Daily website. It's an aggregate site of annotated long-form articles. It's a rich source of superbly interesting diversions. Today my big learns were:
  1. About "ostraca." They were pieces of broken pottery readily available to Greek citizens. If the Athenian Assembly voted to have an ostracism, several months later Greek citizens could put the name of a person they wanted banned from the city onto an ostraca and then they could deposit the ostraca into an urn in the Agora. Anyone receiving an estimated 6,000 votes would be banned from Athens for ten years. Hence, our word "ostracism." Neat eh?
  2. Oh my God: "Siphonophorea."Siphonophores (si-fon-o-fores) are disgusting/amazing. I love biology, so I find them amazing. Phylum: Cnidaria. Class: (2) Anthomedusae (obvious reference when you see one) or Leptomedusae. Order: Hydroza. Family: There are sixteen.

    Siphonorea look like the weirdest animals you have ever seen but they are not an animal, they are a colony of many individual animals called transparent pelagic floaters. The most famous is the Portugese Man 'O War. (Family: Physalia. Genus: Physalis.) One component animal part specializes in the acquisition of food and to do that they develop dangling streams of cell-like creatures that contain incredibly strong neurotoxins with which to sting and stun prey.

    Amaze yourself and see below (thanks to the Monterey Bay Research Institute).
3.  John, Bunny and I went to the Blodel Conservatory today and I saw for the first time a Gouldian Finch, one of the cutest and most beautiful birds you have ever seen. See below. Peacocks and Birds of Paradise get all the press but the avian world is a wonder.

Saturday: Nice Long Walk to Mark and Shirley's

I walked to the PNE two days ago. This walk is to the PNE and beyond—to Shirley and Mark's for a party. It was a perfect day for it because I hate walking to parties and arriving all sweaty. Today was overcast but optimistic, so the walk was lovely. This time I walked along Pender instead of my usual route. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Labour Day party on Granville. The street is closed for
the weekend.

Gate to Chinatown.


You enter this house on the second level but the house is
situated with the front yard in the back where there is yet
another main entrance. These houses are on a cliff.

More of same. Note: No front yard.

What the hell is this? See below.

This gorgeous weed (?) was growing in a parking lot.


And at Mark and Shirley's there was abundance!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Funereal Friday

Friday was only about the funeral of my friend Nicola's father, Arthur. It was my first Jewish funeral and as soon as the Cantor started singing, I was deeply moved to be in the presence of so glorious a singer and such ancient text and melody. He sang the 23rd Psalm.

Arthur died at age 100 + 5 months; there was nothing to regret. He had a rich, rich and accomplished life. He had a beloved wife in Lucille and he was valedictorian in his graduating class when he got his BA in creative writing (poetry) from UBC at age 86.

We all buried his coffin using the back of one of the many shovels first, and then the front. And when we were done, more prayers were sung and said. When the interment was done, all we guests lined either side of the path from the grave site back to the synagogue and through it passed Niki, Ted and their niece with many of us reaching out to gently touch the family member we loved.

Tradition, says Tevye. It is a privilege to be part of a tradition that birthed Christianity. Ritual, ceremony and assembly… all powerful words and experiences. I loved every single minute of the day.

After the ceremony, we went to Niki's for amazing and delicious food. Stephen drove Niki and I and two friends to the wake in his classic stunning red roadster. All eyes on the road were on us and we never stopped laughing. "Hey! Nice car! What's under the hood?"

Once back at Nik's, we toasted Arthur and although it seems weird to say so about a funeral and wake, I had a ball. And it was a long day. I left here at 10:00 am and got home around 4:30. The party was catered by Culinary Capers. The bartender, Sam, could not have been cuter. He is going to Nice where I once lived, so he really appreciated the tips (Peillon, Plonger Aigle-Nautique) that I gave him.

(And, not s single soul asked me what was wrong with my voice. Yes, I, Chris, said as little as possible by eating as much as possible. There were Bon Ton confectionaries!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fin d'août

  1. Got a wonderful surprise from agent Nancy, the bookseller, yesterday. When the book first came out in 2008, I got a cheque a month. By 2010, it was one or two a year. This will be the penultimate cheque because there are no more books to sell. Sometime in the next few months, I may hear from Douglas & MacIntyre about re-printing.
  2. I can still remember the thrill of having new "exercise books" every September. They would come in a package of five and I would assign different colours for each subject. The "right" colour came from some kind of association—my biology exercise book, for example, was always blue because my passion for biology came from spending so much time on the sea and at beaches, lakes and rivers. I loved writing in those clean white pages with their pale blue horizontal lines and red margins. This coming September, however, a Chris decades removed from the boy who loved his exercise books looks forward to:
    1. Securing an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist to see if and how issues with my voice can be addressed—if not permanently, for my show next Spring.
    2. Hearing from Simon Fraser University/Praxis Film Lab/Whistler FilmFestival that Warren's and my script, Uncle Gus' Monkey, gets accepted for development.
    3. If the script is accepted, getting a hotel room in Whistler close to Dianne and Jane who will also be there. If anyone can have fun, the three of us in Whistler can do it. If the script is accepted, it means going to Whistler for five days of workshopping the script with actors and a film director.
    4. The final components of Dwight's and my Dr. Sheldon Freud Self-Awareness Improvement Kits are finalized and printed (or at the printer).
    5. I am hoping that, having taught during this fabulous summer, September brings nice Fall weather that will see a return to walking without sweating.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Long Walk; Long Post

Twenty-four degrees, glorious sunshine and the big change starts tonight to rain. I had to do a long walk, so I decided to walk to the PNE. The Pacific National Exhibition began who knows when as an agricultural fair. As a child I loved going because there were lots of buildings full of adventures. There were six buildings of animals, a building housing a monstrous scale topographical map of BC, a whole building full of flowers and many other delights. Plus, there were games and rides and many forms of junk foods. I walked 19,000 steps and many photos follow because I decided to walk home as well.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

First I walk across town, but once I leave the downtown core,
the first thing I come to is a park I call Needle Park. There are
boxes for sharps because of the nature of the perpetual residents.

Next I pass the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first
and perhaps still, the only such classical garden outisde China.

The Chinese war memorial welcomes you to
Chinatown on the route I took.

Chinatown. I love it.

A Buddhist monastery en route.

There are many parks along the route I took which is almost
direct, two blocks south of Hastings (a horrible street to walk).

Crossing over the tracks.

I pass many schools and churches at which it
is easy and pleasant to rest.

Old road surfaces.

Bosa Italian foods is fabulous.

These flocks seduced me.

I covet this enclosed south-facing verandah.

One building at the PNE continues—the "gadgets"
building where you get those "it dices; it slices"
salespersons left, right and centre.

A girl and her cotton candy.

Look at that design. I love this.


And another.

Where I went.

What I ate.

A favourite thing to do is to be with animals.
There were many Clydesdales there today.

Designer chickens.

Pan showing his  "come hither" gaze.


The rides. I couldn't go there.

There is a superbly relaxing park adjacent to the rides.

She planted this garden for the first time this year. She has
gobs of food where last year there was grass.



A school door.

Another thing I covet.

A favourite store in Chinatown on my way home.

A tea shop. I got a pot and will return to a
tea tasting to get some leaves.

Another favourite shop. Ming Wo's kitchen
supplies where I got a half-dozen new
Champagne glasses to go with the twenty
bottles of grower's champagne I have ordered
from France.