Thursday, December 28, 2017

For Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. You know I'm not an overly boisterous person so if I'm not the classical definition of  'merry' I would at least strive for some reasonable steadiness even?
As usual I've avoided as much gross commercialism for the holidays as I can, and have focused my attention on a few homemade crafts for gifts.  I made a beaded Christmas spider.  I made chocolate rabbit pins for my rabbit people, inspired by the Make Mine Chocolate campaign to raise awareness for live rabbits (and by extension all pets) being given as gifts and subsequently abandoned after the novelty's worn off.  Originally they were vague rabbit silhouettes made of brown ceramic tiles, mine are done larger with more definition made with oven-bake polymer clay.  I made a few and those left may be treasures to find in a geocache I hope to publish next spring.  Maybe.
Christmas I spent with my family at their house for a few days.  I got to decorate a pre-fab gingerbread house (while my nephew plucked the candies off the roof, there was little interest/patience in the activity itself).  I colored in his new coloring book with new crayons.  I'm not very familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine and surely got the colors wrong, but it seemed mildly entertaining for a time. I have an _adult_ coloring book at home but with small shapes defined by outlines it leaves little imagination for tonal shading of surfaces or suggested textures. So here is my offering anyway, enjoy. 
Now I'm back downtown with my adult coloring book, and will meditatively try not to overthink it, commit to the action of doing rather than the finished result.  Eventually I'll find a subject and ambition enough to use my new pad of watercolor paper, to make something both loose yet precise, with flowing pooling pigment but crisp edges, subtle and pale.
Honestly I'm not looking forward to the new year as it will hold several anniversaries of painful discouraging times.  Perhaps I can drown them out with distractions, like a crow with something shiny - curious and attractive yet most likely useless.  I know it's all tied to my attitude and perspective - and no one else can fix that for me - nevertheless some days are more difficult than others.  I still consider myself very privileged and lucky, even when it doesn't feel like it.  I guess the key is gratitude, and to be grateful for the blessings who still choose to be in my life. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hau wech die Scheiße

The end of October has been marked by my friends moving.  After years of steady tenancy their landlord upped the rent too much too quick, and it's better to move than stay.  I spent several days unearthing every plant - their plants - for relocation.  It felt like gathering and boarding Noah's Ark, as most likely the old house they took care to maintain and improve will be simply demolished without reservations for property development, but that's not our concern now.
November has seen us now unpacking everything that was packed in a hurry, and thus the subsequent reevaluation of our material things.  They've been storing much of my things too, in boxes in the crawlspace.  Things from another lifestyle of living on my own, all the simple things that one takes for granted a home should have; plastic dish drying rack, wastepaper basket, pasta strainer, etc. The things typically discarded and repurchased with every move.  I'm not sure why I keep those, perhaps just a convincing safety net if ever my life were to drastically change direction and circumstance again - at least I'd have a pot to piss in, so to speak.  Or else I'm noting that even the cheapy dollar store goods are seldom just a dollar anymore.  Or I habitually prefer to limit my waste production, if it's arguably not 'garbage', it should still be useful...?
More intriguing is the unearthed objects and scribblings on scraps of paper.  Like an archaeological dig I have to remember the period and context by where I find them.  Then returns the associations and memories.  Enough time has passed that all emotions have mellowed, for better or worse. Menus, business cards, receipts.  Envelopes to my old address, written in the penmanship of people no longer in communications.
When I was in Germany one of the local Hamburgers hosted me a week or two, and like anyone with a new pet he taught me a clever trick, or a snippet of his foreign language that I could carry with me onwards to make friends in Germany; "Hau wech die Scheiße".  He said that was a colloquial way to say "cheers", and translates to "Throw away the shit" (to be followed by downing a shot).  The intention/interpretation may get lost in translation, but seems like an appropriate mantra for now.  It's a spring cleaning but in near-winter; not only for possessions but for mindset too.  Too fresh wounds of this year still sting, but I can sort the wheat from the chaff easily from seven years ago.
Fall is a time of collecting, accounting, inventory and harvest, yet anything I had cultivated in spring/summer left me disappointed and empty.  I'm not looking forward to a cold and sparse winter.  Perhaps the best course of action is to plough it under and let it rest, like so many rotten vegetables.  Hau wech die Scheiße.  Let the earth regenerate as it stays dormant.  Maybe next year will be better.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A pinecone amongst roses

People value roses; the friendly yellow, the cheerful pink, the romantic red, the pure white.  Across cultures they are revered for their scent, color and shape.  Upheld as the ideal symbol of feminine beauty.  Also that our perceptions of beauty value the fresh and young, the budding bloom gradually unfolding to reveal its gifts to the world. 
Once a rose has fully emerged it has its season in the sun, then it loses its value.  Soon it is no longer fragrant, the brightness darkens and fades, and the lush petals fall away.  It matters not that the rose was selected to be cut and briefly enjoy fame in a vase or passed over to remain on the plant unselected, those blossoms will wither regardless.  When even the leaves are exhausted, you are left with only a stick of thorns.

I knew a young man who loved roses, and most of all was fascinated by the concept of a blue rose.  Blue roses do not exist in nature.  Breeders have produced mauve or burgundy roses and given them "Blue" in their name, but the bright blue roses are white roses that have been artificially dyed blue.  Like a simple elementary school science experiment, a white rose is cut and placed in water dyed with blue food coloring.  Once severed from the bush that bloom will expire, but not before it desperately drinks up the blue fluid that permeates the petals from tip to base, and stem and leaves along the vascular system.
I think sometimes on that the innocent white had to be manipulated with a chemical imposed upon it, just to be considered a unique and interesting aesthetic.  Was plain white too boring for you?
I wonder if that young man will be forever chasing the elusive... unattainable... novelty...

Behold the lowly pinecone.  Typically they're only noticed once the roses are done for the season, and only some fraction of the rose-lovers would see the beauty in a pinecone.  It has no vibrant hue, just brown.  The richness of wood brown, or maybe sunbleached-through-the-seasons grey.  It has no scent, at least nothing remarkable.  They're more common and simply grow uncultivated, and may even be an unsightly annoyance to be raked off the lawn and openly scorned as they fall with a thud onto the parked car.
But what about their gifts that they hold? Shouldn't that deserve celebration too?
They hold the potential of future forests, armouring the seeds within. Their thorns are but tiny prickles, slight yet unconcealed on scale tips, just for protection against those who would crush it in their hands.  Their shape has its own elegant symmetry and arrangement of scales the Fibonacci sequence, as roses do.  But unlike roses their shape has the strength of wood, and designed to not only withstand but respond to the elements.  They open when dry and close when wet, and will continue their function long after their seeds are dispersed, to diligently execute their duty and purpose.  They're resilient, still trying to open and close after being broken and disfigured by cars driving over them, they skitter off into the gutter.  They're tough, for as long as they can be.
They're beautiful in their own way.  Just different.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Farewell my friend.

September has been difficult for me.  I lost my friend.
I should clarify, he's not dead - which after a tumultuous and emotional spring/summer I am relieved and will gratefully cling to any scrap of good news about him.  He's simply moved on elsewhere.  His last email a "farewell" I took to mean 'I'm leaving town but we'll keep in touch as we have in the past'.  I was slow to realise it meant 'I'm severing all communications so I have closure for a fresh start'.  That was my August, and September has been... resignation.  I must surrender.
He's killed me off.  Whether I agree or protest, it was his choice I'm left to deal with now.  If one of us had to perish I'm glad it would be me, because I am strong enough to take it.  It hurts for now, but have faith it'll heal with time.  It's still lovely sunny in Vancouver now, but I carry in me the grey of winter.  Both grey and winter are beautiful in their own way.
I've been wringing and ironing out words; foolish words, maudlin words for the month.  These were those that made it to this blog post, once finally mustering the motivation to write.  How can one's head swarm yet remain so dull?
I know he had a miserable five months here, fraught with homelessness, frustration, disappointment and exhaustion despite my best efforts.  Perhaps it's simply my turn to be miserable in his absence.  I surely can grant him five months, wouldn't that be fair? I always strive to be fair in my interactions, as imbalance leads to resentment.  Perhaps it is a language he can understand better than my demonstration of best intentions: is that of sacrifice.  One he won't even be present to witness.
I've heard that he has moved on, both in settlement and mindset, and is not only surviving but thriving well in his new environment.  They say he is happy now, which is what I would've wanted for him.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tall ships, and Cape Breton.

I was in Nova Scotia for half of August.  The weather was clear and sunny, mostly (except when it wasn't), and I wasn't as adamant about eating seafood every meal as I had been on my first trip there.  The more I discover in Nova Scotia (especially food) the more it is to cram into a two week visit.  I missed my Halifax-style donair, and McDonald's wasn't serving their McLobsters anymore - blame demand from foreign markets to drive up the cost of lobsters here.  Unless meals were planned and often coordinated to involve more than four people, meals (or snacks) were really a matter of time convenience and available options.  Despite being cheap and consistent, I think I've had my fill of Timmy Ho's for the foreseeable future.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Galiano again, and Saturna

A week on the tail end of spring, to return to the islands.  I pick Saturna! I realise that getting two buses from downtown that connect to Tsawwassen ferries that go directly to Saturna just don't want to match up, even if I were willing to be up at 4am.  I'm eager to get this show on the road, so I'll pick Galiano as the gateway to the southern Gulf islands and get a transferring ferry from there.