Wednesday, April 18, 2018

sun and sea

Left the hotel at noon and spent the day as a flâneuse - walking walking walking. Took the ferry to Granville Island, walked all around the Island, poking into shops, lunch - then the ferry to the Maritime Museum side to sit on the beach, walk up to 4th Avenue and flâner some more - bought a plastic holder for half an avocado, what a useful thing, at Ming Wo, a great cookware shop, and since I had time to kill, a bathing suit. ("I used to have a waistline, I assure you," I said, wincing, to the saleswoman who was checking for fit.) Had a wonderful Italian dinner with Judy McFarlane, fellow writer and now Acting President of the Creative Nonfiction Collective, and her husband Jim, great new friends. And then the little ferry back. There was a wind but the sun shone all day. Heaven.  
 Lunch outside on Granville Island, one of my fave places on earth
 The ugly city in the sun
 Sitting on the beach
My bus home.

Vancouver friends, including that bright thing in the sky

I have moved the chair in this tiny room so I can sit in a patch of what I believe is commonly called "sunlight." Yes, something delightfully warm and bright is coming through this east-facing window. And this strange thing was there for much of yesterday, too, struggling through the clouds. Heaven.

First, a huge thank you to my dear friend Nick Rice, fellow actor from the seventies in Vancouver, now a Toronto-ite who avidly follows my blog and writes me letters - actual letters - both when I'm home and when I'm travelling, three to Chris's place on Gabriola. How rarely we have the treat of opening an envelope, unfolding some paper, reading. Yesterday, Nick emailed to let me know, after reading my post about the doc on Itzhak Perlman, that the man himself will be playing in Toronto the day after I return. I went online instantly and got one of the last tickets. What a thrill, thanks to my old friend.

Off to Kitsilano, to the offices of the David Suzuki Foundation, to connect with more old friends - Tara and David. David was one of my father's most beloved friends; after Dad's death in 1988, David wrote a tribute to him in the Globe that I have framed on my wall. So our lunch together involved a lot of reminiscing, but also a lot of talk, as you can imagine, about the state of the world. David is 82, with the agility and vitality of a teenager - an inspiration in every way. Tara is a beautiful, warm, hospitable soul.

Tara and I took their new twin grandbabies in the wide stroller for a windy walk in the park. She told me their 8-year old grandson, who lives on Haida Gwaii, has volunteered to spend time picking up garbage. Hooray for the next generation of this exemplary family.

From there to the west side of the city. Jane Ellison teaches the fabulous dance/movement/meditation class Boingboing at the Western Front 4 times a week; I try to go at least once when I visit - this time, have managed twice. She begins with a long detailed warm-up, then puts on 3 or 4 fantastic pieces of music, always different and with a strong beat, and we all dance. Just dance, move, fling ourselves about. There's always a moment when I imagine my children taking in the scene, all these lumpy bodies boinging around, but I put that thought away and shake my booty. And then a cooldown. I adore Jane and her vital class.

From there to dinner with Kathryn Shaw, who was my director a number of times during my acting days in Vancouver. Kathryn has run the terrific Langara acting school for decades and has turned out many of Canada's finest young actors. So, more reminiscing and gossiping with another old friend, with two glasses of wine for me. At one point, the woman in the booth next to us turned around, and it was Cathy McKeehan, one of the only other people I've reconnected with in Vancouver. "What are the chances?" she said. Pretty good, as it turns out. She's a close friend of Chris's so I was able to bring her up to date on him and his move. She'd seen the picture of us together on his blog, "like an old married couple," she said.

And then home. All of this done on the first rate Vancouver transit system, busses and subway, efficient and speedy. And though I carried an umbrella all day, not one drop of rain. Instead, that unaccustomed warm thing struggling to appear in the sky. And there again now, through the clouds. Time to go out and say hello.

Oh yes, almost forgot - arriving at the restaurant where I was meeting Kathryn, I told the hostess I was meeting a friend. She said, I think she's here already and has gone to the washroom. Is she an elderly lady, like you?

Kill. Kill immediately without regret.

Monday, April 16, 2018


It's 9 p.m. on a very rainy night in Vancouver, and I'm drying off in bed, in a tiny all white hotel room, with a glass of a spicy Chilean Pinot Noir, a platter of Lebanese takeout, and thou.

Rain on Gabriola this morning, where I'd hoped to take a last walk in the woods. Instead, many cuddles with the most adorable dog in the world. The minute I got up, every morning, Sheba bounded over with a slipper in her mouth, hoping to play. I will miss her a lot.

Patsy and I took the midday ferry over to Nanaimo, returned my piano - I still can't get over that it cost $11 to rent for 3 weeks - got me waitlisted for the 2 p.m. floatplane, grabbed a bite to eat, and hugged goodbye. Last night was truly a gift, to be with two of my oldest and dearest friends, now living on the same island. To think that though we've been through decades of change and the batterings of life, yet, somehow, we're still fundamentally the same people, with the same bond, as nearly 50 years ago ... I asked Patsy, since she threw my 20th birthday party, if she would consider in 2 years throwing my 70th. Only joking, of course - she's much too busy for that.

So - goodbye to the island. It's right that one of Chris's favourite pastimes is watching "Escape to the Country," the British show about rural people wanting to buy a home in a country village. He has done exactly that, and what a perfect escape to the country it has proven to be. How grateful I am to have been invited to share it with him.

I got my standby fare - standby is half price for seniors, so $60 for the 20 minute flight. And then to the Victorian Hotel, recommended by my blog friend Theresa. What a find - very reasonable because the bathrooms are shared and the rooms, at least this one, are small - but in a great location, quiet, pretty, with breakfast.

Reading the "What's On" online, I saw the documentary "Itzhak," about the great Israeli-American violinist, was playing at VanCity. I'd wanted to see it in Toronto and missed it. Headed out without an umbrella - my non-Vancouver reasoning, "There's been so much rain, surely it must have stopped." Idiot! The film was sold out but there was a standby line, so again, I waited for standby and was successful. What heaven is this film. Yesterday, Chris's TV was tuned to the Knowledge Network and an orchestra came on backing YoYo Ma playing the Schumann cello concerto. As an encore, he played one of the Bach Unaccompanieds. I wept. And did again today - Itzhak Perlman, one of the greatest of the great violinists, is a mensch, a beautiful man, joyful, generous, kind, very funny. The film portrays not just his musical career but his lifelong marriage to Toby, a woman who saw him play when she was 15, went backstage, and asked him to marry her. A few years later, he did, and many years later, they still have a glorious partnership, 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and several musical foundations that they run together. He was crippled by polio as a child and yet has lived an incredibly full life. He talks about driving with Toby when on the radio came a spiritual sung by Marian Anderson that was so beautiful, he nearly crashed the car. "I feel very lucky to love and appreciate music that way," he said, and I concur.

Perlman was born in Israel and is deeply connected to his Jewish roots. Someone says, "Isaac Stern was asked why so many Jews play the violin, and he replied, 'Because it's the easiest instrument to pick up when you have to run.'"

The film brought me to my father, a nice Jewish boy from New York who played the violin; to Uncle Edgar, his brother, who played the viola and the flute; to my mother, who played the piano and the recorder and tried to play the cello so she could be part of my father's string quartet. How they would have adored this film. So I watched it for them and with them.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

last day - dinner with Patsy

This dog is not real, she's a stuffy I'm bringing home for Eli and Ben.
Large bits of wood look like sculptures in the forest.
Fresh daffodils from the garden? Yum!
 Friends since 1970.
Friends since 1975 - and, miraculously, still friends after 3 weeks in a log cabin and constant rain and 3 crazy animals together.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Tomorrow is my last day in Lorangerland, Chris's magic hideaway in the woods. As a parting gift, last night and tonight, he showed me two of his favourite movies, films I've been meaning to see for many years and never got around to: Strictly Ballroom and Muriel's Wedding, both Australian, funny, moving, great great fun. Heavenly to lie on the chaise by the fire and watch a very enjoyable film. And eat his lemon meringue pie while doing so. I've gained five pounds, I'm sure - much eating of much baking, followed by much much sitting at the computer and lolling in the hot tub, not offset by a bit of walking in the woods.

Some sun again today here - this is getting to be a habit, B.C.! And this while poor Ontarians, my family and friends, are suffering an ice storm of frightening proportions. My heart went out to them while I was walking another solitary trail. (click to enlarge)
 Someone tried to build a lean-to. Now leaning.

So many shades of green.
Not sure you can read it - the sign says "Woodpecker Training Skool." Some wag not only made it, s/he had to climb quite high to nail it on.

On Wednesday when Chris and I were grocery shopping, I saw a Globe and just had to buy it. It's beside me now, but I still haven't got around to reading it. I'll get to it at some point. Have I caught island-itis? The good news: I emailed two pieces of work this afternoon, the final version of the Beatles' talk and the next draft of the memoir. It felt very good to hear them zoom away. So tomorrow is my DAY OFF. I'm going to be doing this: