Sunday, September 28, 2014

Word on the Street and the Canadian Authors Association

This morning I attended St. James Anglican Church with Gilbert. It was too long since we’d seen our favourite people including Alice, Father Mathew, Karen,  Kevin, AJ and the kids.
After I picked up Laura for the opera, leaving Gilbert at her place, we had time for coffee at Starbucks where the bull of finance stands then took a quick tour of "Word on the Street".  This is one of Vancouver’s premiere writer’s events with everyone who is anyone there.  I’ve enjoyed previous years, listening to the readings and music.
Were it not for the opera I’d also be manning the Canadian Author’s Table alongside Bernice Lever and Margot Bates.    It was great just to see them.   They’re two of the most inspiring women and wonderful writers.   They’ve both got new books out . As usual they are ‘Writers helping writers’.  Bernice just finished editing my new book, Addiction and Psychiatry, now at the printers.  She’s also  been hard at work editing Al Cool’s latest. We would have liked to have stayed. Sometimes too many good things are happening all at once on the same day.  I loved the Vancouver Library venue with its  incredibly creative  architecture.  A favourite Vancouver place for me.
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Carmen, the Opera, Vancouver 2014

I love music.  I love song.  I love the amazing capacity of the human voice. Opera is the penultimate expression of human vocal music. It’s the ballet of voice,  Amazing.  A learned experience.
I didn’t begin liking opera. I preferred Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Country Joe and the Fish, the Guess Who, Eagles,Dave Matthews Band to anything operatic for the longest time.  My friend Anna Borowska, a physician who also sings beautiful operatic soprano heavily influenced me. I liked Handel but hearing Messiah sung by her and friends at St. John’s Anglican Church one year really made me think there may be more to music than Banjo and Bluegrass.  I’ll always love Amy Grant and Third Day but really, maybe I could listen to more opera, and see if there’s something there for me.
So over the last decade, I took in a few of the Vancouver Opera Series and wasn’t disappointed.  It was different. Not reggae. And certainly not rapp.  Opera is a whole other world.  Out there, like Mars and the space probes.  Something to reach for.
I cried for the first time listening to a soprano sing this last spring at an opera I heard in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.  I came home and bought seasons tickets to the Vancouver Opera for the first time.  I've always liked seasons tickets to the BC Ballet and Pacific Theatre but this was the first time for me with opera.
Carmen was the VO's first production of the year. My friend, Laura, loves the opera.  It gives her a chance to wear her long gloves.  I’d taken her to Barber of Seville, another Vancouver Opera piece a couple of years before and she's been hooked ever since.
Opera stories are a bit odd. A barber who chops up people. Now Carmen , a bad girl who works in a tobacco factory, cuts up a girls face and then lures a good son and soldier from his duty and the good girlfriend to the life of a gypsy smuggler. Then she dumps him for another and he kills her. Domestic violence. Telling the ending in Opera isn’t a spoiler. The whole story is written in the program.  Nobody is there for the prose. It’s all about the music,
Bizet the french composer who died in 1875 wrote this amazing music that everyone knows. I recognized it right off.  Two of the pieces from Carmen are the most heard and most easily recognized opera musical lines in the world today.  Meanwhile Bizet wasn’t sure of himself.  Died shortly after Carmen first appeared and before it achieved almost universal fame.
It’s like “Don’t put on the red dress’ of modern day music.  Indeed a lot of this hysterical borderline personality disorder shallow lust theme is a kind of morality play. The music transcends all this.
I loved mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson’s voice and performance as Carmen.  She was terrific. Her voice caught every nuance of emotion and filled the theatre. Her every movement oozed bad girl. Tenor Christopher Magiera played soldier Don Jose and was truly believable as the young duped lover who chose Carmen over Micaela, the woman who truly loved him performed by  Marianne Fiset.  Soprano Caitlin Wood, played  Fraguita and Mezzo Soprano Laurelle Jade Froese who played Mercedes were delightful, their songs and performances thoroughly entertaining.  I especially loved Baritone Morgan Smith who played Escamillo, the bull fighter who Carmen left soldier Don Jose for.  The chorus was stupendous.
Laura and I both loved the Orchestra conducted by Jacques Lacombe.  Director Joel Ivany outdid himself with all the activity and large cast.  Kinza Tyrrel as Children’s Chorus Director had reason to be proud of the performance of all the children.  Camellia Koos set design was unforgettable. The bull ring was truly inspired.   We loved it all.
All around, a great afternoon of entertainment.  The music so moved me, the voices sublime.  Laura loved it.  Packed Queen Elizabeth Theatre and roaring applause.

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Russell Peters Vancouver

Aim, my favourite political scientist, has a new tenured professorship  in Asian Studies at University of Sydney, Australia.  As a doctor and international consultant, she shrieks and hoots at Russell Peters insane multi cultural Indo Canadian humour. Her husband, a serious consultant in the mining industry, shakes his whole body when Russell Peters lays it all out.  Personally I was in a rare zone of continuing laughter hearing myself outside of myself laughing cackling, coughing, meditatively out of body with continuous unceasing laughter and a shit eating grin on my face that stayed throughout the whole performance.
Typical of edgy Russell, his show opened with a local gay comedian Canucks fan D’arcy Michael whose stoner butt humour was great. I especially his line, (paraphrased) “I got married as a gay man so now don’t get sex anymore except maybe once a year on my birthday.”
New York Jewish comedian, Gregg Rogell followed with dead pan intellectual humour reminiscent of Seinfeld stand up, paraphrased, “I learned the Greeks celebrate a second easter a week later, what’s with that, did Jesus do an encore resurrection just for them?"
But Russell Peters had me laughing from the get go like I haven’t laughed at comedy since we heard Bill Cosby’s Baby Cart Wheels age 12. Masturbation jokes, Paraphrased, “this internet porn is really advanced since my age, we only had pictures and if we wanted movement we had to move them up and down with our hand.’  His facial expression of an Indian mother telling her teen age son that she wants him to become a doctor will remain with me for life. I don’t know how he made that face but it was as priceless as his demonstration of why white men shouldn’t dance.  I’ll never look at a white man dancing again.  I loved his multiculturalism, and his jokes with blacks, and whites, latinos and chinese in the audience. To one asian man, (paraphrased) “what type of asian are you?”  “Chinese’, “That’s the main kind isn’t it?”  He almost has me in tears telling tales of his family in that priceless East Indian accent, because, well, his father sounds just like my father who is Scottish Canadian. Russell Peters, potty mouth not withstanding, (paraphrased)  “It’s a good thing I could get a job in comedy because you know my mouth would have caused me countless problems in the corporate world”   transcends history and culture and brings it home to us what a great and similar human family we are.
So go to U tube, enjoy Russell Peters.  I loved his Goat Farting jokes and stories of Bombay. I’ve  been to Bombay and I love it too.  I’m so glad I made it to this ‘almost famous tour’.  It’s a highlight of the year, a packed Rogers Arena.  Something real good to be apart of. Not spiritual in the ‘god on a cloud’ sense but spiritual in the we all have hearts and genitals and assholes sense.  My chest still hurts from the laughter.

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Saturday Hunt Outfitting Chores

Dr. John hosted the  Wednesday night meeting of the hunters at his house.  Not a carnivore like his son, Luke, to date the greatest partridge killer with single shots to the chicken head, he nonetheless enjoys observing the planning and excitement that surrounds these expeditions.

It's a 12 hour drive to where we're hunting and just the logistics of driving that far pulling trailers and arriving to go off road in the daylight required some planning. We're also leaving a day apart as I've got a clinic to complete before I can get away.

The dinner on this occasion was particularly tasty, but not harvested by any one personally. Dr. John had actually gone down to the store and bought it all himself demonstrating that he would survive independent of the planned harvest.

Luke was especially pleased as he'd fixed up his truck and cleaned his guns ready for the expedition.  His friend Shawn was also in on the plan now that our friend Sonny had been prevailed upon by babies, his wife and father to stay at home and work.  Maybe when the snow flies we'll be able to free Sonny from all his duties but meanwhile we 3 were sated with fine food and talking of previous hunts and looking over the maps to consider where best to make our base camp.

Tom was especially pleased with himself as he'd received his firearms license weeks before and since talking with us studied the CORE hunting regs one night and passed the exam in the morning. He was just bitching because now that he had his BC Hunter Number he had to put out money for an 'annual hunter licence' and species tags.  The thought of parting with another $100 in total was making him look ill until we reminded him that we were going to be successful and we were all going to return with fresh meat for the winter.  In addition we were going to have a great time.

Saturday I woke to the myriad of chores ahead of me. I had to empty more 'living' and 'city working' things from the trailer where I've been staying, turning the beast from a leisurely home to a 'hunter mobile' that would sleep the four of us and Gilbert the great hunting dog.

Next I had to load all the excess onto the truck and drive with Gilbert to the storage locker. There I found the goose side by side 12 gauge shot gun since Tom had decided he really wanted to eat a Canada goose. Luke had talked with folk who'd hunted our region and learned that boating down the river was a highly successful way of hunting in the morning.

So once the truck was unloaded and the long shot gun was on board I headed to the boat, the big boat.  My little boat has been tied beside it.  Before I could do anything I had to pump all the water out of it. It was so full I worried the batteries might be under.  Fortunately not.  The boat was ready.
I had the trailer stored at another storage facility so went there next.

The trailer has been sitting for a couple of years so it was a challenge to find the keys for locks and  1 7/8 inch ball.  The turning light was flickering so I went to Canadian tire where I got a new one, installed that and went through the electrical till I found a short as well.

I took the truck and trailer to the Cates Park Boat Launch then called a taxi to take Gilbert and me back to the boat.  With Gilbert navigating we drove the boat up the fjord to the boat launch.  Gilbert jumped ashore and headed off to a group of dogs at a barbecue.  I rounded him up then got the truck and trailer down to the water. When I pulled the boat out I had half the sea bottom of barnacles and weeds coming along.  Some very smart person put a fresh water tap for hosing down boats at the top of the incline.  This was great as I was able to clean out the crap in the boat as well as get rid of the biggest bits from the bottom.

I drove from north Vancouver over to Kits where Luke was working on installing at camper roof over the bed of his truck. Together we got the boat and trailer locked up in his dad's car park.

That was a day of more outfitting and driving around the city.  I just had to get Gilbert and the guns back to Burnaby so I then could hop on my Harley and join Aim and Marc at Rogers Theater for the hilarious Russell Peters.  A full day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Thank you God for this day. Thank you for the rain that will water the plants that are so lush and green. Thank you for Climate Change, the seasons, the colours, the impermanence of life. Thank you for ‘this too shall pass’ and for the silliness and absurdity of youth. Thank you for the beauty of youth. Thank you for the joys of growing older and reflection on the silliness, absurdity and beauty. Thank you for Gilbert, the Cockapoo and Eva, the Cockapoo.  And thank you for hunters and hunting seasons . Thank you for the hurt and shame and the recovery from hurt and shame. Thank you for the remembrance of depression, my parents difficult times and the lessons of ‘this too shall pass’. Thank you for the well being of all those who are up now and for those that are down, This too shall pass. Thank you for the love and care and good fortune I have known, the sunshine after night and the moments of realization in the days of despair. Thank you for the laughter. Thank you for the peace and quiet after the loud and threatening. Thank you for love and friends and relatives. Thank you for all those things that help me to look to what I can be and point me to the best not just the good. Help me to be all I can be. Help me to serve. Help me overcome that lapse to fear and the desire to suck on the tit of self pity. Help me think less of myself and more of others. Help me to be more present.  Thank you for all your blessings.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Keystone Energy Toyhauler Shakedown Cruise

It’s only 30 hours ago that Tom and I got the Keystone Energy Toyhauler ready for it’s first off road experience.  I’ve been living in it. It’s been a dream place to live, but it’s not exactly been a ‘mobile home’ or a ‘hunter’s toy hauler’ until today.
I’m embarrassed to say, there was a lot of cleaning up to do.  I hauled a ton of summer clothes and ‘stuff’ to the storage locker.  I had to find a report for work and we did have to get the rifles and ammunition.  Gilbert thinks this is all the very best fun.  Then we got back and did the final ‘shipshape’ stowing. It was far from ready. Lots of mess for sure but nothing breakable likely to go flying.
Then there was the hooking up Energy trailer to my truck. My F350 Ford diesel had the Yamaha Kodiac 450 in the box.  That lowered the box and gave the truck some more traction.   Getting the torsion bars all set up was a new experience for me.
What we couldn’t figure out was how to get the electricity from the battery to the trailer when we unplugged from the city main.  Tom miraculously found a ‘battery cut off switch’, I didn’t know I had.  Suddenly we were in business.
There was a bad smell. I’d leaked waste when I undid the grey and black water hose not completely tightening the cap.  These things can be ‘sticky’.  Wash hands thoroughly.  Leave Dodge quickly.  The smell will dissipate in an hour or so.  Gilbert rather liked the odour.
Without further ado, I was driving and towing this ‘monster RV”.  It’s twice as big as my last one and that much heavier.
Still all went well. Without any deaths or maiming we all three, Tom, Gilbert and I , got to Chilliwack where I filled up everything at the trusty Husky there.  Propane, diesel, gas, water and air.  Tom even lubricated the ball with grease for better performance.
 There's a a 40 gal  built in gas tank for the gas Cumming 4000 built in generator and the gas tank also has a nozzle so you can fill our ATV.  That’s why it’s a toy hauler.  When I got it I could imagine either my Yamaha Kodiac 450 or my Harley Davidson Electraglide, or maybe both, in the garage. So far the garage has been a great junk room and I don't need to use it for the ATV but one day still imagine the Harley back there.  When we get a moose the ATV might have to go there so we can carry the moose in the truck.  There's a whole lot of possibilities with a Keystone toy hauler.

Up the Coquahalla Hwy, we drove.   Dusk  was just falling.  We climbed  the steepest section doing only 70 km to 80 km /hr in the slow lane along with the other big trucks and RV’s.  We did it!  We made the Coquahalla Summit.   Another half hour and we found our wilderness road turn off and headed back country.  Not too far in with still hunting light available, we found the clearing off the main logging road. We just disconnected the truck,  unlocked rifles, stuffed shells in our pockets and headed out for the very last of the evening’s road hunt. Others were coming in as we were going out. But we had an ‘evening hunt’. We were doing it. We were there. It was too dark 5 miles down the road and we returned, but we'd made it.  Maybe not the 'break of dawn' start we'd talked about but we'd made it and we had the Keystone Energy home to return to.
That night I  barbecued t bone steaks under the light from the porch light.  I had the potatoes boiling. Tom took the onions I’d got at our grocery stop in Hope and cooked them up with the fresh zucchini.
Tom found a candle.  The meal was delicious.  Gilbert even got to eat the bones and thought this was all just too dog wonderful. I followed the main course with Haggen Daz Green Tea ice cream.  Roughing it! Definitely roughing it!
We even watched a  black and white John Wayne western movie on the DVD and TV.
I had cell coverage and checked mail and Face Book.
Around 11 pm we were wound down enough to consider bed. Outside the canopy of stars was staggeringly beautiful.  The fresh air was literately tasty in the nostrils.  I climbed into bed in sweats and long sleeved harley shirt. I’d pulled out the couch bed for the first time and actually had sheets and blankets out for Tom . Gilbert chose to sleep at the base of Tom’s bed.  They’re good buds.The propane heater kept the cabin temperature  around 72 all night.  Lovely.
530 am I was up.   Coffee and granola.  Then out in the truck.
We didn’t plan to be fancy.  No ambush and stalking. Just driving around ‘road hunting’.  Horrible.  But we did have a lot of jawing to do. Tom had just been visiting family in Toronto and driven back through the northern states.  He'd put a new starter engine in a speed boat he'd been water skiing with. On the way back he'd stopped at Custer's Last Stand.  We talked about the bum rap Custer had been given and what a great leader he actually was.
Gilbert kept his eyes on the road, looking for grouse.  We drove slowly through the valley, stopping here and there to scope the slashes.  Drinking coffee. Talking. Nothing moving.
Around noon we talked with a couple of other hunters from Maple Ridge. They were in an side by side ATV.  Hunter talk.  “Seen anything?”  “No”  “What a bout you?” “Some does”  “No bucks?” “No”.
We drove on. We walked about a bit.  Looked over ridges.  Shot some targets. Tom happy to have his FAC and shooting good groups with my Mossberg Lever Action 30:30.  We both used a wilderness campground toilet thankful for the seat.  Didn't even have to squat in the woods.  Gilbert waited in the truck.  He'd run around and pissed and shit on everything when every time we got out and walked about looking up at slashes and scoping them.
We drove some more then headed back to the RV.  Pretty country.  Lots of green pine and spruce.  Colours of deciduous trees just beginning to turn to red and orange and yellows. Just beginning.  Hot day.  Temperature 23.  Sunshine and blue sky.    When we got back to the RV, I enjoyed a really hot shower.
We opened the Toyhauler garage door and sorted the remaining mess. There’s a few more bags I can take to the storage locker before our October hunt. That hunt's been a year in preparation.  This Wednesday we're getting together for the final preparation dinner.
These expeditions are extraordinary feats of organization and planning.  In the draw we'd got moose cow tags. All year we'd been getting equipment ready, Luke fixing up his truck, Tom completing his FAC and working on his core, me getting truck and rifle ready.
Now the Keystone Energy Toyhauler had totally checked out.  Tom and I loaded it up and prepared for the final test.  It had proved  great climbing up the mountain and just fine on gravel roads but I hated hauling trailers down windy steep inclines. That was  what came next.
Returning down the Coquahalla the Keystone performed beautifully.  
Tom took over driving in Hope.  We stopped for fish burgers. hamburgers and Gilbert’s doggie burger paddy at MacDonalds.   Life was good. More coffee. And an easy ride back into town before the rush hour coming home hit.
With Tom directing, I surprised myself by backing the trailer into my tight little spot. I love the Keystone Energy Toyhauler.  
Maybe I’m getting older but it really is a very pleasant way to go hunting. I’d highly recommend it. Maybe after you’ve spent 30 years or so sleeping out on mountainsides in only a sleeping bag or waking in a tent in a snowstorm on a hunt, the Keystone Energy Toyhauler really seems the way to go.  
Really,  barbecued steaks,  Haggen Daz Green Tea ice cream, John Wayne movies, propane heater, my own bed, expresso stove top morning coffee with fridge cold cream and honey , with a hot shower to come home too. Well, I liked it.  I really did.
Thank you Keystone Energy Toyhauler.  And thank you Travelhome RV for selling it to me and helping me all along with any questions and concerns.  
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Caffe Rustico - Mount Pleasant

What a lovely dinner, Laura and I had at Caffee Rustico.  Laura had come to help out at the office with Gilbert and I and my staffing problems.  So after an afternoon of work I suggested we stop for dinner.  Thinking of places we liked, both of us remembered Caffee Rustico.  It was as good as ever. The owner is a delight. “It’s so Italian,” said Laura, “Just like I remember our time in Italy.” she said.  It really is. The pasta is to die for. The coffee particularly special, if not unique.  A friend of the owner was there and when we raved about the pasta he said, “I’m from the same district. That’s how our mother’s and father’s made pasta when we were growing up.”
I love Vancouver for the best of ethnic fare. Just a simple inexpensive dinner on Main Street with a friend and dog, very busy dog watching, made for a lovely end to a hard working day. Thank you Caffe Rustico. The food, service, and ambience was superb!IMG 6500IMG 6501IMG 6503IMG 6502