Saturday, May 31, 2003

Let me tell you what I did today: extracted honey. With Thora, cut the caps off honeycomb with bread knives, then put four pieces of hive at a time into the old rickety extractor, and spun, one of us sitting with our legs straddling the garbage-can-exterior, and one of us spinning the handle. Other parts of the job: straining honey out of the container, pouring honey into jars, mushing up honeycomb bits with residual honey, getting incredibly sticky over every part of us, including our faces because we gave ourselves facials. Einar was around too and helped with a large part of it, which makes sense because he's the expert, but it was Thora and I who were walking, talking honey girls.

New Hampshire is filled with lilacs, and rain and beautiful trees, and old houses and farms. All of the kitchens I've so far seen are the kind I love: old wooden shelves packed with jars of dried goods, lovely ceramics and silverware, and of course great women to have conversations with as we prepare food. I'm having a great time in and around Wilton, although I'm nearly always completely confused about which direction we're driving's all pretty much the same level and there are so many backroads and shortcuts...

To Claire, and Mum and Granny and Grandpa and Ben and Sarah and all the rest of you: if you're reading this, I will email you as soon as I have more time, as it is I'm about to go off to a clothes swap, which I gather is a bunch of girls sitting around drinking red wine and sharing clothes. Sounds like my normal life. Anyway. Soon you will all get wonderful personal emails, but not right yet, but rest assured I'm having an amazing time here and we'll be in touch soon.

Monday, May 26, 2003

In New Jersey, 40 minutes from NYC by train...

Quickly now...was with Claire for a week, then spent a night partying in Montreal, then after two hours' sleep caught a train to NYC. Now I'm at my grandparents' house and tomorrow will be spending the day in the city with my cousins. The next day, most likely the same, and then taking the train to New Hampshire.

Montreal was a great, busy city; the drivers are nuts, the rumours are true. Lots of neon and loud bars, and people bustling along streets filled with construction.

More later. It's dinner time.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

You're the Boss, Apple Sauce

This place has been like the WWOOF Sampler. Yesterday I helped to deshingle a roof, and today I played gardener, and all three days I've been cook of some sort and dishwasher too. I've never cooked for 8 before, and I've also never made risotto, but apparently my version of it last night was a hit with everyone. Tonight my contribution was the eggless gingerbread, which I must say was pretty damn good. And we stay in that little cabin and we get up at 6 am, and walk in the morning chill by the lake to the big house, where coffee awaits.

It's funny how things change, and how our circumstances change us, often without our permission or desire. Leaving BC I debated and debated whether or not it was the right thing to do, and now after being away from it and becoming used to new places I become new as well. I didn't want this to happen, before, but now it has and I don't think there's much I can do about it. Which is to say, I'm accepting things as they are.

Besides the title (which came via Uncle Simon, ever wise and sage), this is some other advice I got from family today. These words belong to my mother:

"Really, in retrospect, it doesn't matter how our lives are long as they are felt and embedded deep into our bones. Saddest part would be if happenings in our lives didn't leave any imprints. This brings to mind striations and mounds left by glaciers and become part of the landscape 10,000 years later. We weren't there but we see it now. "

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

TIme here is lovely, though I can feel a hole in me, a missing of things, a strong desire to turn back the clock. I have to speak out loud to myself, tell myself to stop wingeing, cheer up, enjoy this moment. Sometimes it's tough, what can I say?

Yesterday Claire and Joe and I went out in the canoe and fished, and I sat in the middle of the boat and held the small radio above my head to get reception, and so we had Manu Chao and Nelly in the middle of a secluded lake in the remote QC woods. The water was a deep turquoise blue and the paddle I had was an orangey brown color, and the contrast was really neat to watch as I was paddling. As usual, good conversation all day long, and a delicious supper (the house here reminds me of Big Hill in so many ways) and then we all went off to bed.

Today we scraped a boat and painted another, and took breaks in order to climb up onto the big red tractor and dance to Tribe Called Quest and some more Manu Chao. It was very hot out, just like Cape Breton in the full height of summer. We walked back to the house and made lunch and then Claire and Joe hauled some wood and I stayed home and took care of Dizzy (aka Liz, their 83-year-old British grandmother, who has Alzheimers and is actually fun to hang out with) and made a cake. Everything's been low-key today but in a good, constructive way. I'm swearing off the alcohol until at least Saturday, when I might be seeing Gregor in la grande ville and maybe even attending a party. (Who, me? That's a little wild for me, isn't it?) Lots of thoughts have been in my humble little brain but unfortuntely I haven't been able to do any journal-writing since the trip here, hopefully soon. Then of course on Sunday I'll be in NYC, and then on the 28th, New Hampshire and the last leg of my journey. If I don't end up working for Deanie at Shape-Shift there's a good chance I'll be nannying in Chicago, isn't that wild? Time will tell, in any case. Now I'm back to the cabin to teach Claire and Joe the illustrious card game of Shithead and hopefully win. Tomorrow: cement-mixing!!

Monday, May 19, 2003

I woke up this morning in the loft. This would be perfectly normal except that of anything after the 5th, maybe 6th swig from the absinthe bottle last night I have no recollection. Claire filled me in on the details of how I got up into the loft, (it involved her one rung below me the whole time) and some of the things I said. Honestly, who is this girl? Do any of you know her? Usually I can remember everything that happened, but absinto as they say in Portugese happens to be pretty potent stuff, especially when one is drinking it straight from the bottle.

We're taking bets on how long I will stay drunk for; I'm guessing til tonight. At the moment it is a beautiful sunny day, Joe is cooking that fish he caught last night, Claire is making matte, an Argentinian tea involving ground up twigs, or something. Later we'll go out in the canoe and bake on the lake, and there may be some swimming involved.

I realized today why I feel so much like I'm home, besides that these people talk like Cape Bretoners from time to time and eat tofu and live in a house that smells like the home of the Kennedy's. It's that the trees are short.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

I've reached Entrelacs, which is just above Chertsey, which is just above Rawdon. I haven't had much sleep but I'm somehow doing just fine, and I went for breakfast with Uncle Simon and his little boy, and then took the bus here to Arnie and Anne Moore's home, which is where Claire lives. Joe, her boyfriend, is visiting as well. It's an old farmhouse right on a lake, taken apart piece by piece by Anne's father and hauled via Bombardier to the current site; you can still see blue numbers on it where he labelled it. "It was like one big Lincoln Log set," Anne said. After having dinner (eaten out on the porch overlooking the lake and hill beyond) and after doing the dishes, I sat in the rowboat, still tied to the dock, and put my feet up on the front bench and looked and looked at the lake. The whole thing was a massive indigo, like thick drippy oil paint, light reflecting in deep blue off the ripples caused by Daniel throwing the inner tube with gusto into the water. Joe caught a fish by casting right from the dock; he washed the guts out right there. The place where we're staying (we being the three of us, Claire, Joe and I) is a little cabin about a minute's walk up the dirt road from the main house, and I walked it in my bare feet tonight, peepers singing in the inlet nearby. I haven't felt so close to Cape Breton (in more than one way) in a long time, and I wonder if I want to go home at all. Things will be the same, won't they, and will I too revert to my former, untravelled self? But that's the fear I have in my moment of weakness, and then I look at the people here and the proof they are of the preciousness of life, and then I think that things will really be OK. And really, I'm doing fine, I just miss certain things, certain smells, certain folk.

I'm happy though, happy and well-fed and well-loved. And Claire has promised me a back-rub later.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

5 hours and counting down...

So this is it. I'm in Whistler, the sun is shining, I'm wandering around with Ben and waiting for the bus at 5:15. All my stuff is at Sarah's, I should really run and get it. But the sun is shining and I'm getting free Internet.

So SF was lovely, my last day was just packed and I exhausted poor Uncle Eric dragging him all around the city. I will write more about what I did later, when there's more time, and there might be some time. You never know. And just now as I was typing 'you' Dave Matthews sang it. Synchronicity or mere coincidence? And if the former, does it mean the world is going as it should?

Friday, May 9, 2003

"Always Stay in Your Own Movie"**

Today was Joe's turn. He took me up to Dolores street, past the park and then down to the Castro district. From there we took the F-Train down to Hyde and 8th, and then we met Eric at work and went for some Thai cuisine just down the street. Thai iced tea is like a creamy orange-colored concoction that tastes of boiling maple sap--an amazing flavor. Then I checked out the Asian Art Museum for a few hours, with its massive collection that was almost too much for my brain to process. There were huge sections on every Asian country, from India to Korea to Tibet and Bhutan to the big two, China and Japan, and many others I'm not naming. They spanned time--from the Bronze age to the present day, and there were all kinds of things--jade, ceramics, baskets, tapestries, paintings, statues, jewelery, manuscripts, holy artifacts from Tibet... I'm not kidding when I say it was more than my brain could handle. And I managed to get reprimanded by security guards not once but twice...the first time I was running my hand over a statue from 100 B.C. ("Excuse me m'am, but please don't touch the statues") and the second time I accidentally left the flash on my camera. ("No flash in here!" "I know, it was an accident!") With the statue-groping, I'd been feeling the surface of various ones for about 10 minutes already, but I guess hadn't been seen. Ever the sensuist, I believe in appreciating artwork in more than one way. I guess they don't. Fully understandable.

After the art musuem, I wandered into City Hall and apparently right into the middle of prep for some big shindig--there were crystal glasses stacked all over gold-cloth-covered tables, and lighting guys setting up their stuff on the second-floor balconies. But what I wanted to see was the inside of the dome, and I went up as high as the elevator would take me and then sat on the fat railing and just stared upwards. When I came back down I asked someone what was going on there, and they rolled thier eyes and said "Some big fancy thing, probably for the opera."

After that I walked down Market street, trying to find interesting condoms, and while I passed plenty of girly show theatres, no erotica shops. Oh well. Then took the BART back to the Mission, and while walking back to Eric's I had to explain twice what my cblocals hoodie was all about, to two consecutive black men who didn't know where Nova Scotia was. One was an older security guard named Winston, and when he made some allusion to my 'uncle being mad 'cause he was flirting with me' I took my cue to leave. All in all, though, a harmless guy. Keep on defending the Bank of America, Winston!

It was another beautiful day in Frisco. I'm so lucky to have these three crazy guys putting me up (and putting up with me), and feeding me delicious veggie meals and putting sweet-smelling roses in vases for the dinner table, and taking me around and answering all my questions. Mondo kudos to the uncles and Francisco. G'night.

**Can you guess who said this? Why, it's....

Thursday, May 8, 2003

By the way, you can all comment on my posts; click on "Shout Out".. my comments supplier seems to like calling it that instead of Comments, but it's the same thing, eh?
After having breakfast this morning and trying to figure out flights to Montreal, I headed off to the BART station to go into town. On the way there a latino man approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy some ID, to which I politely said no. Then I caught the next train to the corner of Hyde, 8th and Market, and walked up Hyde to McAllister, where my uncle works at Hastings Law School. After taking in a great view of the city from the 24th floor of the Tower, we took his little yellow Bug first to the cleaner's, and then up to the Haight-Ashbury. He had gotten in touch with Pam Brennan (the daughter of Peg Brennan) who normally runs the Flower Power Walking Tour, and she said she would give us a special tour, even though it was her day off. The Brennans were good friends of my father back in the sixties, when he lived in NY in his mid-teens. When Dad was kicked out of his house he stayed with the Brennans, and initially came out to California in order to see Bruce Brennan, the eldest, who had moved there. Dad has told me many stories about Peg Brennan, who took him in under her wing and would take all the kids to the war demonstrations, and finally today I met her. She is a wonderful old woman with the most beautiful wrinkles--they are the softest lines I've ever seen, and they fit her face very well. She has very blue eyes, and her smile is gentle but she still seems to have a sharp mind and a sense of humour.

So after seeing the inside of 525 Ashbury, we walked around the area they call the Haight, looking at all the neat shops (head shops, clothing shops, lots and lots of shoe shops--Sarah, you'd be drooling--cafes, bookstores, food programs) and other scenery (flower plots every 10 feet or so memoralizing some dead Haight resident, like Ken Kesey, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin; the amazing vegetation like the astounding bottle-brush tree; and of course, the people). We had lunch at Magnolia (we sat in the further booth that you can see in the third photo) and then Peg went home to take a nap, and the three of us carried on with our tour. Pam told us all about the history of the neighbourhood; from way before the sixties up until the present. Apparently the area is becoming sadly gentrified, lots of yuppies moving in and despising the 'riffraff', but there still seems to be a real spirit alive there.

We saw the Grateful Dead's house (second picture down), but there is now a gate at the bottom of those stairs to keep people from running up and sitting where Jerry sat. We didn't go to Golden Gate Park but I heard a lot about this today, and since our names are similar had to link to it. And I'm just showing you this because I think it looks pretty. Pam had a copy of it hanging on her wall; she collects the posters from each year.

So after our trip back in time Eric and I went back to his place where he made a lovely vegetarian dinner for the four of us (there is also Joe and Francisco, who is from Mexico) and then we chilled out here in the Mission the rest of the evening. I took a hot bath and Joe demonstrated how the gas lights work, and I worked out my flight to Montreal for next week. Now the wind is whipping up outside and it might rain tonight; I think I'll go read some Gary Snyder and maybe even clear up my things which have somehow sprawled themselves all over my beautiful bedroom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Also, you've just got to look at this. It has nothing to do with San Francisco, and everything to do with a certain house in Emerald after 3 in the morning, a pot of tea steeping and a spliff being rolled.
So. I'm in San Francisco, having spent 26 hours on a Greyhound bus (or in a Greyhound station), one ear constantly plugged up, and my throat is still scratchy and hoarse. But who's wingeing? Not me. San Fran is a beautiful city, and I've only seen little bits of it so far. Uncle Eric picked me up in his yellow Bug, and we drove along the Embarcadero and then into the Mission District, which is where he lives. The Mission is filled with the typical SF Victorian homes (like the ones you see on Full House, don't pretend you never saw it) and also lots of brilliantly colored Spanish murals. Vegetation here is mondo lush: flowering trees, flowering shrubs, flowers in window beds, flowers on the sidewalk, and all these flowers in vibrant colors that jump up and pinch your eyeballs. And the flowers are all these odd shapes as well, and have fringes and spikes and things. Joe, Eric's partner, grows black bamboo in his back garden, and roses in the front one. They have trees extending out of the front garden over the fence, growing over the street, which I bet makes nice shade in the summer.

Thier home is a lovely jumble of art, books, old furniture, three dogs, good food, flowers, and more art. Most of the art comes from Guatemala, as Joe brings up pieces from artists he knows there and sells them for them here. The colors used in these paintings are all very lush; and the detail is quite fine. Usually they depict Native scenes like feasts or rites, or normal activities like farming or harvesting. The room they have given me to sleep in, the library, is not only filled with books but also these paintings. And at the moment, I'm typing from the archive room for this site, looking up at original posters from SF in the sixties. Eric was showing me some original copies of the Oracle, including the copy that announced the Human Be-In back in 1967. I think I have the dates right. When I said how much I loved seeing these things, he showed me the two tall file cabinets filled with similar artifacts. I could spend days in this house alone!

Tomorrow it looks like Eric and I will be checking out the Haight-Ashbury, and the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park. Also, before hand, I will meet him downtown (after taking the BART) and we'll check out the Asian Art Museum, which is, according to Joe, the largest archive of Asian art outside of Asia. Other than seeing the Haight, there's not much I'm burning to see, but with a tour guide like Eric (who has lived here 30 years) I'm sure I'll see some wonderful things.

I can't wait to take some pictures. And I can't wait to show them to you.

Saturday, May 3, 2003

My cold lingers, but I'm no longer afraid it's pneumonia. Which is good, which means that San Francisco is full-steam ahead.

Jacky--these days I'm very busy, I would love to send you an email but suffice it to say you'll hear all the stories this summer. That goes for the rest of the CB folk too.

Now I have to catch a bus so I can eat sushi with Sarah. See you all soon. This sentence brought to you by the letter "s".

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Like I was saying to Jess...I'm in a bit of a flaky place at the moment, the flakiest I've ever been. I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm dirty, I'm sore, my memory is bad, I don't know what I want, I've been drinking way too much, staying up too late. I'm willingly giving in to pessimist cliche, to the belief that all of life is bittersweet, that there is this tinge of suffering to everything we do. At least, that was me up until about an hour ago. I'm coming down from the proverbial roof, I'm OK, I'm making decisions, I'm going to stick by them. Life still feels pretty bittersweet but I think it may have some hazelnuts in it, that is, if life were a chocolate bar, and that better be what I find after I die because otherwise I will be well disappointed. Heaven is a hazelnut Rittersport, what do you say?

But first I need a shower.

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