Archive for the ‘Culture and Art’ Category

Bici en Merida

Monday, December 5th, 2016

img_20161204_112908I am trudging down a back street in Merida, Yucatan, sucking a lime popsicle and dribbling sweat. I spot a handmade sign out front of a mom’pop storefront: Rentas Bicicletas. In the cool shade of the shop a family is stringing Christmas lights. I spy a sweet little wine-purple step-thru cruiser.  Papa Alejandro cranks the seat up a bit higher for me and I am sold. I rumble off down the cobblestones, cool breeze lifting the sweat from my skin. As if it could be any other way.

But in fact, I had actually almost resigned myself to navigating Merida on foot. Cycling in Merida looked terrifying. Buses and mini-buses, diesel-spewing trucks, cars, motorcycles, horsecarts, all crammed into the teeming downtown streets. Hibbledy-jibbledy pavement, potholes, cobblestones, random piles of trash. High curbs with no curb-cuts to the sidewalk, and treacherous foot-wide gutters alongside. Careening in and out between the buses and horse carts: bicycle cowboys on bmx’s and clunky mountainbikes, plus cargo-trike vendors loaded down with water jugs, baskets of fresh bread, loads of tomatoes and pineapples. Basically, chaos – in an unknown city, in a language i barely understand. (more…)

Why knit?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Know this: if anyone ever knits you a pair of socks, it means they really, really love you.

I’m well into knitting my life’s third pair of socks. And while they are certainly nice socks, they’re nothing spectacular. I don’t do fancy cables or intricate stitchery (and i have actually seen a pattern for socks with a stanza from Beowulf knitted into them, which is just plain insanity). They are plain, but they will be warm and fit just right, and they should last a good long time. But they’re pretty ordinary socks, and mostly they will just be hidden inside my shoes.

Sometimes when people see my hand-knitted socks they say hey—you could sell those! Yes. But, at $20 or more for the wool, plus at least 30 hours of knitting, thems would be some pretty pricey socks. (more…)

Dying stars

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

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Can anything ever, so beautiful, die? So sexy. So alive. So hot. So bright.

Lou Reed. John Lennon. Glenn Freye. Freddie. Bowie, Dylan, Keith and Mick.

All dying suns.

Shooting stars.

Burning always through night sky.

The end of awesome

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

spicoliI know i’m going to come off like a crochety word nazi, but i don’t care. I demand a total and immediate moratorium on awesome.

The a-word has been the most tenacious meme ever to infest the English language. Like some kind of evil invasive species, it has strangled out every native adjective. Ad-copy writers (oops i mean content providers) shove it into every slogan and tagline. CBC announcers and politicians hiccup it like some kind of chipper Tourette tic. It is everywhere, and it is boring. (more…)

Ann Randolph and the Bitch

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

AnnRandolph3Ann Randolph is a storyteller/performer from LA. She’s got the courage to get on stage and not be pretty, which makes me want to fall down and kiss her feet—I am so sick of watching women on stage in pretty dresses crooning pretty songs with pretty guitar chords, trying desperately to be sweet and inoffensive. Ann does real, and it isn’t always pretty. Just wearing those camel-toe pants on stage is an act of supreme chutzpah. Her stuff is definitely adult content, which is a rare enough thing for family-friendly Cortes Island to get me excited. When I saw Ann’s show, Loveland, last summer, I laughed so hard I just about strangled. And then of course, I cried. I was torn by envy and awe. Ann will perform her new show, Squeeze Box, at Mansons Hall this Saturday. (more…)

Living the semi-wired life

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnwiredness is one of the luxuries of life in my green schoolbus on the bluff. No wifi, no smart phone, no wires. I have a battery-operated radio but the reception is crap. When I want to hook up I carry my computer down the cliff trail and along the ocean boardwalk to the farmhouse. It is only a 5-minute commute, but that distance makes all the difference in the world.

I climb down the cliff and sit myself down here under the patio umbrella, log on, send off my queued emails, download my mail and maybe a podcast or two for later listening. Check my twitter feeds and analytics, and the Tideline for island gossip and news. Do a little blogging, send and receive a few graphic files. Log out, feed the chickens, pick some kale. Then climb back up to my bus on the bluff, to work and practice and play. (more…)

Three great reads

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

heliopolisI don’t know how long it has been since i dove into a fiction novel like a warm sunlit sea, looking forward all day to the moment of the dive, to hang weightless in a world of words. I had wondered if the internet had killed that pleasure in me but no, it is alive and strong, only needing the time and the space to thrive. This summer season I rediscovered novels. I read three great books, and I feel well nourished and grateful.

The first book is Howard Jacobsen’s The Finkler Question. I picked it up at the little self-serve book kiosk near the Whaletown ferry dock. “Man Booker Prize 2010 Winner”, puffed the jacket. There was a receipt  for 2 bucks from the Salvation Army store in Courtenay stuck into the book, on the back of which was scrawled A JUNK BOOK.  A difference of opinion. Well alright then. I accepted the challenge, put 75 cents in the cookie tin, and shoved the book into my pannier. (more…)

Chicklit my ass: an apology to Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, September 5th, 2014

liz_03I just finished reading The Signature of All Things, the new novel by Elizabeth Gilbert. I polished off that huge whomping five-pound hardcover late last night. I had to, because it was due back to the library today. You know, there is a hold queue on that puppy six months long, and it can’t be renewed. So I just had to knuckle down to the deadline. I was even prepared to pay the 30-cent-a-day overdue fine if i had to, but nevermind. I made it, under the wire.

But before I go on about The Signature of All Things, I need to come clean about something.

In case you are truly clued out, Elizabeth Gilbert is a Very Famous Writer—listed, in fact (and according to her bio on the inside flap of the book) as one of the New York Times’ 100 Most Influential People in the World. Yes indeedy. She has written several[ novels and non-fiction books, but what hoisted her onto the Most Influential list was her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. (more…)


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