Thursday, September 09, 2010

PNE Centennial with Karen

What a marvelous day last Saturday with Karen at the PNE. The only fly in the ointment was that Kadir bailed on us.

I took the bus and met Karen out front of the Fair. She said she would be dressed in black and white and when she appeared in front of me at the entrance her face was shining. It was wonderful to spend some time with her although we didn’t do anything we hadn’t done in the past.

The best thing was taking her to see the Centennial Naval/Marine tattoo in the Coliseum which featured the US Marine Pacific “killer” marching band, the British HM Royal Marines which were a seamless texture of perfect musician ship and drilling skills, the HMCS Naden band which brought back memories of my days as a Cadet in HMCS Chippewa band in Winnipeg (where Naden was the summer band camp of choice), a small contingent of WWII veterans who along with a vocalist did a sing-a-long of the greatest hits of the Blitz including “Pack up your troubles” and the “White Cliffs of Dover”.

As far as I am concerned though #1 was that Karen got to see the Seaforth Highlanders Pipe band in all their triumphant regalia, uniforms Karen remembers her dad wearing. They were playing in a single unit with the Vancouver Police Pipe Band and I noticed the British and American musicians watching them from the wings. They are a pretty impressive band on their own.

During the course of the afternoon we shared a single order of the BBQ chicken and potato salad/coleslaw that we’ve eaten at past fairs and also got a bag of mini donuts. At one point we dropped into the beer garden where Karen had a Corona and I a glass of Merlot, but there was a rock band warming up for their set and it was not a relaxing atmosphere. Before we left Karen and I shared a Greek style chicken wrap washed down by a root beer.

At that point after 5 hours we got ready to leave and Kadir finally answered his phone and apologized for bailing on us. I wish he had seen the bands most of all.

Karen still left me in her dust for most of the fair but when she remembered she backtracked to take my arm, probably the closest we have been in years. We took the #4 bus back to Granville before dark where she took the Canada Line home.

I got off the bus with her where we said our goodbyes and from there I began my walk home from the sky train station but I paused before I turned the corner to see her strolling off in the wrong direction. The Canada Line entrance was on the other side of the street. But she wasn’t lost.

She had paused at Birks jewelers to look in the window and light a cigarette and there I left my lovely girl in her white jeans and flip-flops which showed off her pink painted toe nails. She was so kind and gentle to me at the fair, just as she had been when we were first together 30 years ago now.

What a great day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lunch with Chaya, Nika and Jerika

It is a cloudy Thursday morning after a brilliant hot afternoon yesterday, but it was also a day that began like today.

My girls were going to pick me up for a late Father’s Day picnic but as it was cloudy and cool we opted to go to Granville Island where we decided to shop the food booths in the central market.

Chaya was driving as Nika and Jeremy have taken truck #2 off the road to save cash.

We stopped briefly at Chaya’s place near the market, built on the same land where I used to lunch under the trees while working as a courier at Adanac Customs Brokers and where a bird once directed my attention to a silver fountain pen someone had dropped on the ground, a pen that helped fill my journals over the next year or so.

Chaya’s boyfriend’s apartment is a big fancy one overlooking the marina and both the Granville Street and Burrard Street bridges. I visited briefly because she wanted me to see where she lived and she also needed to change clothes from job interview earlier in the day.

The stroll to the market was pleasant as the summer sun had returned and Nika found us a table near the main busker’s stage while Chaya and I brought back the lunch. Mexi-style steamed burritos and root beer!

The busker was talented and the music was pleasant and Latin flavored, a perfect accompaniment to our quasi-Mexican meal and by this time baby Jerika had woken in her stroller and was looking around at the beautiful summer colors and shapes. We were sitting under a small leafy green tree and the baby was looking up through them towards the sky.

I tried to talk to baby, but she was not paying any attention at all to the distraction coming from my side of the table. Her wide innocent eyes mirrored the emptiness of the sky above the leaves.

Nika looked tired and bedraggled as did the baby…I guess they had been up most of the night. If not for Chaya’s early knock at their window, they would’ve slept in and there would have been no meeting for us.

After lunch we strolled back to the Kids Only Market past the water park where we used to frolic as a family when the girls were younger. I pointed out the turtles basking on the sunny rocks to Chaya which she had apparently been unaware of and she pronounced: “I’ve been Turtle-ized,” in a Schwarzenegger-esque accent.

How quickly time seems that it was only just yesterday I came here to play with my two small girls.

Nika picked up the pace just after we crossed back under the bridge along the seawall and ran with her baby in the stroller, laughing and erasing the tired worry lines from her face. It is not easy work at home with a new baby as I recall only too well.

I decided against taking a water taxi and opted for a walk home past the armories under the growing heat of the sun, over the Burrard Bridge back home where an old man scolded a young woman for being in the pedestrian lane with her bike.

She smiled sunnily at was just that kind of day.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Perfect Walk

Yesterday, after doing my laundry and then walking up to Safeway to do my grocery shopping, I took my usual stroll up Harwood, down Pacific and Hornby and back west along the seawall to Sunset Beach.

I wore only a t-shirt and although it was cool I felt quite comfortable.

Because of the beautiful sunny weather there were a lot of others enjoying the ambience of the walk and the beach and I followed in the footsteps of an elderly couple who passed me walking arm in arm. They were very tiny, well under 5 feet for sure. He was bald and she had carefully coifed, colored and brushed light brown hair that did not completely hide the gray.

As they passed me, I could smell them and it was a smell of cleanliness and familiarity. Everything about them was perfect. They could have been my own grandparents. I felt so comfortable walking in their wake.

They walked with easy dignity and exuded an aura of love, not like two young lovers but like two who have known the whole journey of love and lived through it and stayed the course.

As I continued to amble towards the Inukshuk they outpaced me and I lost sight of them.

I decided to walk as far as the Inukshuk, circle it and then go back home to begin cooking my dinner. It was an easy walk and as I rounded the loop by the stones where the Inukshuk stands watch, I observed many young people posing, laughing and mugging for their tiny cameras, in order to capture their tokens of this glorious day.

There was one trio who seemed to be taking fashion photos of a very pretty young woman, and she smiled and pouted and flirted with the camera as the wind blew up a choppy surf in the background. She also took photos of them, but it seemed that the focus was on her.

Another group a little further along was taking a much more relaxed and fun-filled set of pics, they seemed more like school friends.

Round the bend I came face to face with the elderly couple who had first passed me and I noticed the man's face for the first time. He looked at me briefly and did not smile but his eyes were light and kind and full of benevolence.

This walk was the kind of everyday experience that is so often taken for granted. Today I was awake enough to cherish it and make it my own.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

From Sunny Day to Pouring Rain

It was a gorgeous May morning, the sun vibrant, the sky blue and I woke knowing my weekend chores were completed the night before and that this was my day.

I had plans to meet Karen and Kadir for dinner at 4:30 and decided to take advantage of the weather to take a mid-day stroll to 2nd Beach.

I wore my t-shirt and a put on a flannel shirt in case it got windy but was carrying it by the time I reached English Bay.

I took my normal leisurely walk admiring the ocean, the flowers, the long still-uncut grasses along the slopes above the seawall. I kept wondering how Kadir would look after his 2-week kayaking journey in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island and was looking forward to details.

My walk took about an hour, I came home and watched a little TV and then planned to do one more loop down to the water and then walk back up to Davie to meet the family members but a few minutes after I started back down, I could feel the chill in the air and the first few raindrops beginning to splatter.

I realized that this was not a walk I would enjoy in shirt sleeves and so went back home to bide my time until our meeting time. At 4, I called Kadir's cell and to my surprise he was already waiting at Davie and Thurlow, a half hour early. I told him I would be right there and grabbing a hat and jacket started off. I am glad I didn't take an umbrella.

On the street outside the sky had grown suddenly and ominously dark and there were flurries of leaves like small cyclones blowing randomly over the street. The wind had kicked into overdrive. The rain had not really started yet but there was doubt it would be here, and soon!

It arrived by the time I had walked 2 blocks up to Davie and holding my hat in place so that the wind wouldn't carry it off I walked up to Starbucks at Thurlow and Davie where Kadir was sprawled at one of the tables, holding a now empty cup and looking very impatient.

He was wearing a new hat and new shoes that were in danger of being soaked by the now growing-in-intensity downpour. Clothes are not an item that he has ever been able to take for granted and so he was understandably upset about the bad timing of the weather.

Karen was running late of course and was just boarding the Canada line in South Vancouver and so we started off to get a table at Stephos, but half way there changed our tack and decided to walk up Davie to meet Karen at the Sky Train station in Yaletown where we assumed she would be getting off.

I am glad the rain changed our plans for us, as by the time we reached Thurlow again it was dumping buckets and Kadir was sweating bullets over his new shoes. We huddled under an awning for awhile until Karen called and told us she was at the Waterfront Station, as she didn't know where to disembark.

So we diverted our steps to Osaka Sushi on Burrard where we have all gathered before and where I was confident that due to the weather we could while away a half-hour before ordering until Karen arrived.

She finally arrived soaking wet and wearing flip-flops in the chilly rain! What a gal! Just like the weather and you never know which way the wind is going to be blowing.

This was a successful meeting though for as soon as Karen arrived Kadir's mood improved and we were soon all laughing together.

Getting the details of his trip was more difficult as he had been sick on the trip and it sounds like the young team was challenged but I got enough details that I am sure it is a journey he will not soon forget.

And at what other school would this trip provide credits for his high school year?

It was a good, good day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Earth Day Prayer

Yes, I confess to slacking off when it comes to my blog. The main obstacle to me these past few weeks has been waiting for the right moment to post.

I don't like to blog when I have things on my mind that are too personal and don't have anything happy, or uplifting to share with others. There is already too much bad news out there all the time!

So this morning, a bright and sunny Earth Day I have the perfect excuse. I am soon to be a grandfather and yesterday my pregnant daughter Nika showed up with her mom to take a seawall walk with dad.

Nika and Karen showed up pretty much on cue, around 12:30 and we went down to the seawall and walked to English Bay and then up Denman for lunch.

Nika had just cut Karen’s hair and they had pretty much bonded before arriving so it was nice to be in their ambience. All through our visit I didn’t see evidence of a single cigarette nor a complaint in that direction.

We had lunch at the new Knight & Day along Denman (they did; I had breakfast) and then they polished off my leftover pancakes for desert after their calamari and salad lunch which looked very appetizing indeed.

Nika looked healthy and very happy and a friendly waitress announced that her belly was definitely harboring a boy as it is very round and pronounced!

Nika told me they had everything they needed for the newborn baby and are going to wait until June for the baby shower once they are sure of the baby’s sex. Karen is going to be helping them clean their apartment in anticipation of the baby’s immanent arrival in May.

The walk to English Bay was initially cold and sunless but by the time we came outside after lunch, the sun had started to appear and part the cloud cover and so we were able to amble back in its healing presence and admire the tulips, bluebells and cherry blossoms.

The return walk was pretty much the walk I envisioned when they first suggested it last week. We walked and talked to the rhythm of the surf and admired the new spring greenery all around us.

It was nice to spend time with two of the very specials girls in my life. It was nice to live in the moment with them as in the family days of yesterday when Nika was just a toddler.

Today, on Earth Day, I pray that the April showers will give birth to many May flowers.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

My Two Jet-Setting Sons

I received a lovely long letter via email from Ky written last night. He is in New York City preparing to leave for London again mid month.

He too is ecstatic about Kadir’s trip and feels he will have a life altering experience as he did, suddenly making the rest of the world much more accessible.

Kadir has been invited to go to a resort in Cancun and will be accompanied by two of his school friends and their mom. Karen and I spent a few furious days trying to cough up a passport for him and to our amazement we succeeded.

Ky let me into his feelings (where he is usually tight-lipped) and despite the fact that he thought the grammar was atrocious it is one of the easiest to read pieces I have ever received from him. There was no bad grammar that I could see at all.

I had a few stunningly vivid dreams last night. In one I was talking to the Dalai Lama and in another being reunited with Veronica, the mother of my young (in the dream) son Chad. At times it seemed to be Kadir that I was walking with and hugging and kissing spontaneously. It was a wonderful feeling of bonding, of being welcomed by those I love.

I woke around 7 a.m. saying “Wow” and then going to the bathroom and going back to sleep to dream some more. I woke at 9:15, a perfect time for me to get up.

It is Sunday and feels like it although I couldn’t help but notice men’s voices in the hallway this morning. Whether they are residents or visitors I don’t know.

I checked Ky’s photos on Flickr this morning and he has now (what an array of changes in the past year) morphed into a Bob Dylan lookalike with a short beard, sunglasses, black suit w thin black tie and a small brimmed fedora style hat!

He posted a stunning photo of himself typing on a portable machine while sitting at a small desk on a dock or platform outdoors churning out pages of writing which are flying in the breeze all around him.

He calls it “too commercial” but I call it BRILLIANT! (Google: ky zoss photos) He never ceases to amaze me.

I also Googled “Milk Bar” which is the coffee shop in Soho he will be working in this month, once he arrives and settles in. He has a lucky horseshoe stowed somewhere on him.

Kadir flies out from YVR early tomorrow morning and Ky from JFK mid month.

I have marked both dates on my calendar so I can track the flight paths of my two suddenly grown-up young jet setting sons!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Complaints

Although it poured rain the night before last by mid day yesterday the sun had broken through.

I took my usual Tuesday walk to Safeway to shop and reveled in the cherry blossoms and crocuses in evidence along the way. The sun was warm although the air was chill and I completed my shopping, happy in the knowledge that with laundry done my weekend chores were now complete.

As I walked home carrying my bags I noticed an elderly lady stopped in the sidewalk ahead of me, her face raised skyward as though studying something.

When I crossed the intersection she smiled at me, radiantly and beautifully. I looked up to where she had been looking and I could see the sky filled with crows and pigeons, circling madly.

There must be an eagle up there,” she exclaimed in a strong British accent. I agreed as this is often the cause of such a display of aerial acrobatics.

Sure enough as we looked a young eagle soared into view above the rooftops. Its white plumage was not yet in evidence but it was recognizable by the steadiness of its trajectory amidst the flutterings of the other birds.

We both commented on the beauty of the day and the apparently early arrival of spring and then parted ways, and encounter that left me with a very nice feeling to take home with me.

She had commented on the chill in the air and added, “I’m not complaining mind you.”

No complaints from this quarter either,” I responded as I waved goodbye.