Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

I hope you all have a great Halloween and get some fabulous little trick-or-treaters tonight. Last year we did not get a single kid, so maybe this year, we'll go for a walk in town so we can see them in their costumes.

On Saturday I got up at about 7:40 to make it to the paper-making workshop. I managed to get out of the house with plenty of time to drive to Metchosin. Fortified by coffee, I actually felt pretty good about being up that early, since I was able to do something, when I would normally be sleeping. Unfortunately, I pulled the usual silly scientist trick of merely scanning the instructions from MapQuest, and assuming I knew where I was going, which I did not. It turns out there are two different "Burnside" roads within a couple of km. I drove up and down the wrong one and realized I wasn't going to figure this out on my own. So I stopped at a 7-11/gas station and asked the woman behind the counter for help. She looked at me like I was crazy and got out a street directory which she did not appear to know how to use. She turned to help the next customer behind me in line and he asked what I was looking for. I turned around and said, "Sooke Road" and he said "Oh, hey, how are you?" since he was John the medic on the Tully who sent me off for stitches this summer and got to take them out gleefully (they rarely get any interesting injuries to treat apparently) mid-cruise! He drew me a map.

I got there 20 minutes late, but that was okay. The teacher was a wonderfully calm, Buddhist artist with a huge studio in the country. There were 5 other students- a local mother-daughter set, two students from the international Pearson College (alma mater of our former housemate Maria), and a women from Brentwood. No one had come as far as I. We made cotton and abacca paper first. We got to try different sized frames and deckles. After lunch we could basically try whatever struck our fancy. I had fun working with a mixture of 7 types of fibres and found paper inclusions. I even found a Bathurst streetcar transfer to include to remind me of home. I think the results will be quite something. Others focused on lamination or combining different types of pulp in a single sheet. It was interesting to see what attracted different people and the paper that was made. We cleaned up at 3:00 and then discussed what we had made. The teacher said I appeared quite patient and that I knew exactly what I wanted. I'm always surprised when someone tells me I'm patient since I feel impatient, but I do generally have a good idea of what I'm trying to create. I can't wait to see the finished products.

I was hoping to go back to Metchosin to pick up my dried paper yesterday, but no such luck. I took Di downtown when I went to tour the drill ship. Luckily Sam reminded us about the time change, so I wasn't an hour early, like my colleague B. Another colleague T. admitted that he had arrived a WEEK early, since he mixed up the dates. This made me feel better about playing the silly scientist's idiot navigation game the previous day. Unfortunately, the tour was 1.5 hours, rather than 20 minutes as advertised. So I was quite late meeting Di. Then I rushed to catch the last minutes of annual Halloween super arts supply sale. Di had convinced the landgirl to store the unwanted bed in his mini-studio elsewhere. It blocked much of the room, but was used as a place to stack vinyl records. Thus to complete his studio transformation he needed some more furnishings to store records and stack electronic recording devices of various sorts. Sam and Di and I braved Value Village in the height of the pre-Halloween buying frenzy. I spotted a great piece of furniture, clearly designed for records and record player, for $20. Along with a $12 cabinet, we were set. Except, of course, it did not fit in the trunk or the backseat, and it was already dark at 5:00 pm, and of course, it was raining, again. So after much exertion and discussion, I got the guys to shove it as far as it would go into the trunk and used my handy rope tying skills to tie the trunk down. We dropped off Sam and headed carefully back up the peninsula. I had to explain the concept of the blind spot and enlist Di's help, but we managed fine and it did not get too wet.

We went home, moved all the vinyl out yet again (as previously to remove the bed) so that the furniture could be moved in. Then we had to move the records back into the room. Then we watched "Grand Hotel" on DVD. We bought it and you should too. It's awesome. It stars Lionel and John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Wallace Stevens, need I go on? I cried, again.

I put up all the Halloween ornaments I made. Di said the glow-in-the-dark skeleton hanging from the light fixture in the kitchen keeps freaking him out. But that's rather the point isn't it?

Overall, quite the weekend.

Friday, October 7, 2005


So I am a bit bewildered. How did it get to be Thanksgiving? I think we must have skipped a month while I wasn't looking. So, I have a plan. Two years ago, my mom came to visit and give me the "how to prepare a turkey" lesson. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, she flew home and Di and I were stuck with many remaining pounds of bird. Eventually, I started to harass all guests to the house and demand that they help eat the turkey whether they wanted to or not. This was not a good thing. Last year, Di and I had prawns provencal. Not very traditional, but we enjoyed it. However, we eat that a lot, especially since meeting the new upstairs neighbour with the prawn traps. My plan this year is a compromise: special poultry dinner but not to drag on for days- we bought a cornish game hen. :) Just right for the two of us for one meal. Plus we can have some local squash. I got a spaghetti squash. I was driving down the road and there was a sign, "Free squash"- one of the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere. [Aside: I will always remember the time that J&T asked about preparing spaghetti squash and I explained that it is nice to cut 'em in half, add some butter and SPRINKLE with brown sugar, wrap in tin foil and bake in oven. Somehow, this was an instance of broken telephone, since was ensued was a squash with the entire empty depression in the middle FILLED with brown sugar for some scary sweet squash soup! Ick! Almost as bad as the hyper-vanilla "Pleasure Dome" for a lesson on how there can be too much of a good thing.]

I must confess there is another motive for my merely semi-tradition Thanksgiving. Every day I walk to work past the WH stables. In the late summer/early fall, they raise not only horses, but turkey. Seeing these turkey, even these one living the good life of a free range bird, has made me reluctant to eat one. I was never the city girl who thought food originated at the grocery store, but I do find it different when I am acquainted with the birds most likely to show up at the local store. I mean the poor things are so colossally stupid, it seems like taking advantage of them, or eating Weirdo the local mentally deficient cat [I suppose Weirdo has a real name, but I dubbed her Weirdo and it stuck]. One day I was walking home and a large number of them had escaped through a small hole in the fence. They were milling around on the road and by the fence in a senseless manner. I tried to gently chase them back into the field and panic ensued. They ran around like the proverbial chickens with their heads chopped off, running into things (mainly the fence which would hit them at neck level and they would fall over). After a couple of minutes of this, and utterly failing to catch one (since I now know how to catch a chicken*, I thought maybe I could catch a turkey), I decided I was doing more harm than good, so I continued home and looked up the stable in the phone book and left them a message about their wayward turkeys.

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend and that it does not RAIN. Today here it is not grey, which is a nice surprise. Enjoy your meals and I hope you don't overdose on turkey (nor let my squeamishness hinder your enjoyment- you are not likely to be acquainted with your dinners after all). Happy thanksgiving.

*footnote: Chicken catching story- 1.5 years ago I was sitting at my breakfast table looking out the window across the field. I saw something russet moving in the bushes and like a good Ontario girl I thought, 'oh, it's a fox' but Di said there are no foxes on the Island. This claim made sense because if there were foxes (apparently weaker swimmers than wolves) on the Island, we would not be beset with thousands of bunny rabbits [Rabbits are a real problem here. The yard in front of the hospital is so riddled with rabbit holes that people get injured attempting to enter the building and falling down rabbit holes]. So, I put on my glasses. Not only was it not a fox, it would consider a fox its enemy- it was a chicken! What was a chicken doing in the bushes? It was caught and talking to itself in a consternated manner. I coaxed it out of the bushes and tried to convince it... yes, I'm not kidding... to cross the road- to go to the house that sold eggs, since that stuck me as its most likely home. Di wanted to take pictures. The bird made sounds that seemed to say, "oh, I don't know about this... I don't think I'm supposed to be here..." Every time I tried to pick it up, it would flap and struggle away. Then our friend (bassist and worker on a chicken farm) rode by on his bike. Within 30 s he had the chicken by the feet, holding it upside down, crossed the road and returned it to its home. Quite the adventure for a city girl on a Saturday morn.