Sunday, June 22, 2008

meanwhile, back in Vancouver

I hope you're not getting too weary of my travel journal and photos yet. I do feel a bit like those friends who trap you with their huge stack of snapshots from their last vacation and insist that you listen to their detailed description of what every single shot entailed. At least on my blog you can just click me away. I've recently noted two knitting blogs whose writers expressed a similar concern about giving their readers too much travel info but reminded those readers, and themselves, that the blog was at least partly intended as an exercise in personal record-keeping: And she Knits Too says, "While this is a public blog, I write it primarily for myself, so I can be indulgent with my travel diary" and Girl Who Knits also feels a need to explain that "This blog serves many purposes and one of them is for me to record my memories and stories."I'm afraid I'm going to claim a similar self-interest; in other words, there will be many more photo-filled posts of my travels. However, I think I'm going to start mixing it up. After all, I do have a life in the present, don't I!

So no travel photos today -- in fact, sadly, I have no pictures for you at all, but perhaps that's because I want to motivate you to go look at my photos of beautiful art in the Luxembourg Gardens.

All I'll offer you today is a quick recap of some recent activities. I had the most wonderful afternoon last Wednesday at the home of a now-retired colleague -- a restored 1930s "cook's cottage" in a beautiful rural setting south of Duncan (BC). I've been invited to join a small group of colleagues who decided to meet once a month to share favourite poems. The format is a simple one -- we each bring two poems and then we simply read them aloud in two go-rounds. We speak about them as much or as little as we want, but there is no tedious or intimidating analysis. I'd worried about the potential for what one might crudely call a pissing contest, but there was none of that, just respectful open sharing and a celebration of what we seldom make enough time for, the love that at least partially motivated us into this profession. I missed the first get-together, but we have several more planned, and I looked forward to them very much.

Thursday I decided to skip my Pilates class and stay home for the first day I've had all to myself in my own home for well over a month. I love this luxury -- it would take me a few days before I would begin to feel lonely. I suppose because I'm the oldest of a very large family and then went on to raise four children, I really treasure time to myself. I love to have enough time to putter around, straighten things up, do a bit of laundry, all those domestic minutiae, but still, then, have time to sit in my big leather armchair and read.

Friday I came to Vancouver and when Paul got home from work we met one of our daughters at our favourite Greek place nearby. They do the best grilled (not deep-fried!) calamari that we've found anywhere, such a treat. And it's so great to have Rhiannon living only blocks away from us and be able to meet some of her friends, hear her work news, and enjoy her company.

And then yesterday, my oldest daughter took me for an outing promised last month as a birthday gift -- a brunch-and-shopping-and-then-afternoon-tea to get to know her neighbourhood, Main Street from 8th up to 20th or so. We had a lovely brunch at the Aurora Bistro, then wandered in and out of so many cool shops, Hum, Lark, Eugene Choo, Pleasant Girl, Barefoot Contessa. Amazingly, neither of us even tried anything on, but found many, many items to admire -- I'll be back to Eugene Choo especially where they have some sophisticatedly-cool European lines where gorgeous fabrics and clean-cut lines are featured.

Then last night Paul and I went to a great concert by Pink Martini, one of the events in the Vancouver Jazz Festival. They're a fabulous band with a big, full, layered sound -- much percussion, a harp, very accomplished piano, trombone (I really love what trombone does for this music), trumpet, violin, a very engaging female singer and a number of male singers so that there are rich harmonies. They perform songs in many different languages and seem to have taken great care with pronunciation -- articulation of words is exquisite, really! We know their music quite well from listening to the discs often, and it's so great to hear those pieces performed live and given a new dimension.

And we found a new and absolutely-full-of-crazy-fun band, "Sneakin' Out," who opened for Pink Martini, and who are also from Portland, Oregon. If the discs were being flogged in the lobby, I missed them, but I'll be doing my best to track them down. This 3-piece group did original songs as well as covers, but the covers were unlike any others I've heard. The Beatles were covered several times but the improvisation on distinctive melodies/rhythms took the tunes into new realms, stretching the possibilities 'til they were barely-but-still-recognizable, hugely satisfying for the audience as we would "get" the reference. They mixed Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, movie and commercial themes in with "Baby you can drive my car" with Beethoven's Third with "Penny Lane" with . . . I was wishing I had a notebook so I could jot the references down as I caught them. If it sounds a bit forced and tiresome, I'm not explaining it well. It was clever and infectious, rambunctious fun. And have you ever seen a percussionist play a manual typewriter convincingly while wearing a huge red tiered tulle skirt and a mohawk? Didn't think so!

Today it's crêpes at our favourite place and maybe we'll wander into the Vancouver Art Gallery and check out the Manga exhibit. Hope you have a good day. Stop by later for some more on the Luxembourg Gardens.

3 comments:

  1. You don't have to apologize for what you write on your blog! Besides, that sounds like the most glorious few days, I got jealous. For the time to oneself, in the house just pottering about, (that is easily one of my favourite things as well). Then on to watching a drummer in a tulle skirt playing a typewriter! You sound like you had a fantastic time.

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  2. Oh, Pink Martini, how fun!!

    Sounds like you've been having a splendid time since your return. No too much of a letdown, coming home after Paris?

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  3. Whoops, Cybill, I forgot about all you folks who still have kids at home and to whom I will seem as if I've gloating. A day in your own home without anyone else was always my idea of Nirvana, and about as attainable, when mine were still at home.
    Pseu: It was a great concert and really helped with the being-back-at-home-ness to know we had it to look forward to.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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