Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday: Mexican Dinner

I decided to make a Mexican dinner for my friends Sylvia, John and Bunny. Bunny is making and bringing the flan for dessert. I decided to make two recipes I got in Sayulita last year: Spicy Tuna Tacos and Black Bean, Corn and Shrimp Salad. Honestly… this is one of the better dinners I have made.

The Ahi Tuna prior to searing for the tacos.
It is seared in the green sauce in the photo below.
Lime juice, olive oil, cilantro (lots of it)
jalapeƱo and ground cumin.  
The shrimp. De-veined! I love mild OCD.
This is the bast of the salad that I will lay on a bed
of shredded iceberg lettuce. On that I will add the baked corn,
broken taco chips, the baked shrimp and cilantro.

More OCD. Hand shucking. I start with the knife but
then only use my thumb and not a kernel is left. I am a pro.

The kernels baked.
The colonels baked is an altogether different image.

This I love. It is the sauce for the tacos and it is
heated with adobo—find that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Night

My meeting with Tracy was uplifting and some of the most intense learning I have done in a long, long time. Warren was in rehearsals today and could not join us so our next step is to get Tracy and Warren together. Tracy is seriously moving us forward! My fingers are twitching.
My new light at night.

And these are laser-cut boxes that I drilled holes into and
glue-gunned to a maple board I had under my bed. Then I
pushed little lights into them and now they adorn my
dining room for dinner tomorrow night with friends.

Now, with all the set models and wigs and so on,
 am starting to feel like some kind of Martha Stewart.

Saturday Morning with a Screenwriter

There is a sprinkling of snow on the ground this morning, but the sky is clear and it is cold outside. I will walk to my appointment at 11:30 with screenwriting partner, Warren, and Tracey, an accomplished screenwriter who will help make our script hit all the marks required for a made-for-television movie.

There is a HUGE irony here: Screenplays are one of the most technically demanding forms of writing I have ever done. I have written speeches for ministers, manuals for computer programs, scientific papers for doctors and zillions of grant applications and other technical projects that now seem more open to creative innovation that screenplay writing. Screenplays for television are surprisingly structural.

We await one more session, arranged through Simon Fraser University's Praxis Centre for Screenwriting, then we start making our pitches to producers. I am perfectly positioned—loving every single step of the process but happily free of any expectations. My reward on the screenplay is Warren's friendship.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday: Seawall Walk With a Bang

I am so happy to be at home with warm dry feet.  Yesterday the temperature reached 13° and set new records for warmth on that day. Today broke clear and much colder. Both the water and the air were cold.

It started off so calmly on the south side of the park.
But you may notice that today is one of the highest
tides of the year.
The wind and light made the ocean look green.
A ferry going into the harbour for repairs.
The lead tug was working backwards.
At Prospect Point a huge wave soaked me with
frigid water up to my knees. My feet were COLD!
It was to be merely the first time of many
inundations during the last half of my walk.

Debris was everywhere or there was absolutely
nothing. Everything having been washed into
the ocean. Earthworms were everywhere.
Sea foam.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sad, Sad, Sad

P. D. James passed away today. I have read almost all her novels and loved them very much. She gave me scores of hours of immense pleasure. And smart and good, she was. My favourite quote: ""I had an interest in death from an early age. It fascinated me. When I heard, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, I thought, Did he fall, or was he pushed?"

Thursday: So Many Reasons To Be Happy

Chris makes a play. 

  1. November 27th, 9:00 am and it is already 13°. It's cloudy but so lovely and warm.
  2. Teaching for another term is over and over until July 2015 (except for a 4-day workshop in April).
  3. I stepped on the scales this morning. I weigh 72.5 kilos. On September 10th, I weights 81.4 kilos. And although I still have reflux in the morning, I like what I see in the mirror.
  4. I am making things with my hands every day for my show. I want to do this forever.
  5. In the next few weeks, in all likelihood, I will inherit some money from Rita's estate.
  6. In the next few weeks, in all likelihood, I will hear from Harbour Publishing about my book going into a serious reprinting.
  7. In the next few weeks, Warren and I will hear from two professional assessors about our screenplay and out pitch to OutTV will be made.
  8. I will turn 67 in just over a week and I feel I have the reserves to get through the end-of-year horrid season with its insipid music, yearly recaps, guilt gifting and too much food.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Girls

My three girls watch me work from the shelf in my office.

Feeling the Glee with Number Three

With this one done, I have vanquished any concerns I have about making replacement wigs during the run of the show. I will have several made so if one breaks, a replacement is available immediately and the next day, I will repair the damaged one. Same with the paper dresses.

The interior of #3, that you cannot see, was a lot of work. In stage lighting, it will show. There are rolls of paper that will suggest how real bouffant styles like this were built up with curls.  If there is to be a #4, it may be built with cotton batten.

Woo Hoo, Wig Two

My first wig is visible here. This is #2. All designs may get used. I may not have to choose as there are two scenes. But I have at least one more wig to go. I seem to always like making three models as I did with the set. This is another design for Lady Vivicean Ferret; I am compelling myself to work in paper.

Starting out… an Elizabethan shape for a base
made, largely, out of tissue paper that is covered
in crepe paper streamer. 
The curls are made of finer tissue paper.
The rubber base is trimmed when finished. 
Weaving tissue paper and gluing (and getting
sticky fingers) makes tissue weaving hard. I
chose to weave a hair cone for this wig.
The finished wig. She is a ridiculous person.
Why not go crazy?

Monday, November 24, 2014


I am addicted and have been for decades. Once I was a casual Coke drinker and then, at age 45, I had my second heart attack and a diagnosis of Prinzmetal Syndrome which is incurable but benefits from patients constantly taking caffein. I would often forget to take my pills and so it just became easier to constantly drink Coke, but I switched to Diet Coke to avoid the sugar. And,  of course, friends soon started sending me How Coke Will Kill You and How Aspartame Will Kill You articles.

Suddenly on September 10th, I decided to drastically alter my eating when I discovered acid reflux was causing me to lose my voice. How drastic? I have lost 18 pounds since then, but the slide has stopped.

Just as suddenly, on November 22nd, I decided to change my drinking habits—well I could say a bigger change happened quite a while ago when this life-long nondrinker bought a wine cooler and 18 bottles of Champagne, but on that day I decided to change my relationship with Diet Coke. Now, whenever I go to the fridge to refill my glass with DC, I first drink a large glass of cold water and I am extremely pleased with the surge in self-control that seems to have descended upon me.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Morning With Vivicean

This is a first draft and about three-and-a-half hours work.
To make the final wigs will be very time consuming.
And that is exactly what I want—something to do
that takes up hours of my time. I love retirement.
Adding the curls down the back.

Vivicean is a character in my play, Trudeau, the Felons and Me. Her name comes from an amalgamation of two words: vivisection and obscene. Vivisection, in case you don't know, is surgical experimentation on living animals which is an obscene act to my sensibilities. So Vivicean is a horrid character and therefore delicious to write.

This morning—beginning, as usual, at 4:00 am—was my morning to begin experimenting with building her wig. I bought a theatrical bald cap to put on a styrofoam head yesterday, so I could experiment a little with building it. (It shows in the photo but it will be trimmed on the final version.) And as with set designing, I have only my imagination to serve me in the absence of any training or experience.

This wig will go with her paper costume. The big decision ahead of me is whether or not to make both Vivicean's and Basil's costumes and wigs in white or coloured paper.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What's Next?

I wonder what has happened. As I contemplate my concern, I remember my ex saying to me once: “I’m bored. I’ve made a mistake choosing you. All you want to do at night is watch TV.”

But it wasn’t watching TV that bothered him; it was the fact that we weren’t going out every night to party with friends. I am not a partier. I only recall that incident as I wonder why watching TV has become impossible for me. If I turn it on, my behavior makes me wonder if I have an attention-deficit disorder. I turn it on; I hit pause; I do some dishes; I turn it back on; I hit pause; I check my email; I turn it on; I hit pause; etcetera, etcetera.

I have winnowed my cable to two essential channels: PBS and Knowledge.

So after pondering what has happened and I conclude the following: I have developed confidence in my creative writing so I want to write more. Now I find staring at an empty MS Word page more satisfying than watching TV. But what should I do next?

I have written about what I know. Artist Survival Skills was about all I have learned working professionally in the visual arts. I have written about my past. Knock Knock was a fabulous theatrical experience for me, a lucrative one for the charity for which it raised big bucks and a valued one by its audience. And now, as Uncle Gus’ Monkey, it is bringing new adventures to Warren and me. And Trudeau, the Felons and Me is about the most interesting seven years of my career.

So what should I do next? My brain says: Write something that passionately interests you—a comedy or a fantasy … something not about you, adoption, loss or identity. My ego says: Write something that allows you to design the poster, props, costumes and set again.

If I can think of something and do it, it is going to be the hardest thing yet. So far, everything has been easy, coming from my own experience. I have always felt the greatest writing is about ideas. There’s the nub of the challenge.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have been awakened by building the three maquettes for the set for my play. Writing is 2-D, set designing is 3-D and working in three dimensions is profoundly fulfilling. It is like being a kid again. Building sets feels like play. And this morning I am off to get styrofoam heads to have on hand so that I can play with paper of differing colours and textures to create the paper wigs for two characters in the play.

And in the ensuing months, I will build a large model house —a miniature version of the real Presentation House. The model is a major prop in the play. And then, with Jane, and once we know the cast, we will start creating the paper costumes.

The awakening is to the thrill of working with my hands (to do something other than type). It is even more fun that writing, and when I have so many constructive things to do with my hands I don't need television or books or movies or anything else. My awakening has me wanting to keep making more things.

But … and there always seems to be a "but"… but I also love the extra "hit" I feel from making things to fit into a story I have written so I have awakened today with a desire to concoct yet another play that will allow me to make things. I wonder if I can do that?

Adoptees might not remember how to speak their first language, but the linguistic sounds from when they were very younger may still be embedded in the brain.

My friend, D-R, sent me an article entitled Lost’ first languages leave permanent mark on the brain.  I am living proof of that discovery. You can read it here if you are interested. All they had to do is call me to know what they have discovered.

Some of the biggest "ah ha" moments in my play Knock Knock that is now my screenplay called Uncle Gus' Monkey are about my inexplicable affinity for French and passion for things French—the language that was my first language and the language in which I was immersed for the first six months of my life.

This article is a wonderful read for me. I am so grateful for the Internet and D-R's initiative to send it to me because this phantom language and passion for it has been a major influence in my life.  It has always amazed me that I can be, here in Vancouver, in a room full of Anglophones talking and if there is one person speaking French, I hear it as clear as a siren through all the aural clutter.

It is so incredibly fulfilling to read things like this:
“Lost” first languages leave a permanent mark on the brain, a report this week has found. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the US, challenges the existing understanding that exposure to a language in the first year of a child’s life can be “erased” if he or she is moved to a different linguistic environment.
And this:
In addition to challenging existing understandings of the impact early languages have on the brain, Kate Watkins, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said it had interesting implications for those who may choose to “relearn” their first languages. 
“It would suggest that someone who had this very short exposure would have an advantage if they wanted to learn this language again. If your brain is wired up to detect these [sound] categories you are probably going to have an easier time learning the language.”
Duh. Again … all they had to do was call. I could have told them about going to France at age 24 with not a single minute of French language instruction and becoming fluent in 3 months and possessed of a better-than-average accent.

What a terrific read this was for me. I feel fabulous today.