Dennis

June 27, 2011

A couple of weeks back, I was in the Squamish Public Library and decided to survey the poetry board they have there, fully expecting all new material.

I was almost right – everything was new except the poem I’d tacked up sometime last October, called Dennis. I wrote it for my Grandpa the night he died, last April. Not sure why my piece alone made it so far past the one month maximum posting time, but here it is:

Dennis

Rain, take me away
Wash me out to sea
And into the bay
I could use a little change
I know I’m just thinking out loud
But it feels nice
To think myself a new life
 
On a night like this
When I’ve a dark kiss
Stained on my lips
 
How do we get by
One chance at a time
We all take our turns
With saying goodbye
But in the end
The last one is life’s
 
I can feel you in the atmosphere
And there’s no place I want to be other than here
 
Soft night on my feet
I expect you in my dreams
 
A reunion of bliss
You’ve waited so long for this
 
You were the last to remain
And now you are fleeting
Like this beating rain
A fitful way for life to reclaim
You this spring day
 
Your April showers
Are set to blossom the flowers
You so were seeking
I’m so sorry for not speaking up sooner –
I loved you, you know
And I’m all too sad to see you go
 
Time will move on and go by
Though we’re not ready or willing to say goodbye
To each his own, and all shall pass
You and we loved – and that’s what will last.

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Another Year Older

June 26, 2011

Today I find myself yet another year older (yesterday was my birthday). I feel like I’m at least a little wiser – actually, I feel a lot wiser. I’m also really impressed with myself looking back on where I was a year ago and how I handled all the ‘bad’ stuff that was going on with a positive attitude, and how far that’s brought me since.

A lot has happened and changed in the past year, and I’m really thankful to be exactly where I’m at right now. After all, exactly this (and every) moment is all we really have, when you put things into perspective.

While my birthday dinner at Foundation Lounge in Vancouver looked a lot like a disaster (they wouldn’t make nachos with the Daiya shreds I brought, one person watched everyone else eat for 10 minutes before getting her order, another person had the wrong dish brought to them, at the end of the night they tried to say that two people who had left hadn’t paid when they had…), it’s mostly just comical that things could go so awry.

Particularly with regards to the cake I had made and brought (which when I called ahead had been pre-approved as something they were willing to do, unlike the Daiya which they said would be up to whether or not the chef working felt like it). It was an ice cream cake, as I often like to make for my birthdays.

Since last year’s edition was such a huge hit among the meat-eaters in the bunch, I decided to go to the added effort of making the crust – dates, almonds, coconut oil, and cinnamon processed and pressed into the bottom of a spring-form pan – in Squamish, then going to my friend’s house in Vancouver to add and freeze the layers of ice cream – strawberry on the bottom and vanilla on the top – so I could take it to the restaurant without it being mush from the hour-long drive from Squamish.

The incredible irony is that it ended up that way in the end, despite my best efforts and intentions. The (new, but still) girl who took the cake and Daiya from me somehow misunderstood when I asked her to put the cake in the freezer and the Daiya in the fridge. I think you can see where this is going… Cut to two plus hours later when I asked our server to please bring the cake, and she came back and let us know that it was melting all over the fridge. Not much to do about it at that point, but still kind of disappointing. The make-up fondue was a pretty good substitute, though.

I don’t think I’ll be going back there for a third year in a row next year, but it’s still pretty marvelling that so much could go so wrong. Thankfully I don’t feel the need to get overly upset about such things, just a little bummed.

On the brighter side (or is that the greener side…?), I found some broccoli that was quite happy to make its way into my belly.

 

The Book Shelf

June 11, 2011

Today I went downtown to check out the Squamish Farmer’s Market to size-up the competition before I put all the necessary effort into joining their ranks.

I was pleased to find that there was a stall selling bread that had three vegan breads. I was slightly weary that one of them was a pumpkin bread, as one of the things I want to sell at the market is pumpkin banana bread. Hopefully when deliberating the committee will take into account that they are actually quite different from one another. Perhaps some picture inclusions will be in order.

Other things I’m thinking of selling in my stall (which I had been planning to set up once a month from July through the market’s end in October, but am reassessing for August through October instead so I have more time to prepare and get a banner, etc) include pink lemonade cupcakes, probably a brownie of some sort (though I’m really not a good judge of the tastiness of a brownie, since I often have an aversion to chocolate in large doses), and I’m heavily leaning towards peanut butter cookies right now. That could just be due to my current proximity to the remains of my peanut butter-on-toast breakfast.

Pink L(emon)adies (with vanilla frosting)

After my rounds at the Farmers’ Market, I walked to a coffee shop for a latte (I swear I’m trying to quit – why is withdrawl so difficult??) and to indulge in reading Geri Halliwell’s first book, If Only, for a while.

As I was approaching the book store, I was considering going in for a look to see what’s new, maybe inhale that sweet, sweet new book smell, look at some journals and sigh with overflowing inspiration at what I could fill the pages with this time – but was very sad to find that none of that would be possible.

Like the Grilled Fromage (a decidedly cheesy restaurant that served something like 47 different kinds of grilled cheese, and had yellow curtains with holes in them designed to look like cheese that would have been heavenly to me when I was about 10 years old and still ate dairy) before it, The Book Shelf has closed. There’s a sign on the door thanking patrons for letting them be a part of their lives, and perhaps not unsurprisingly, a Canucks towel to show their support for the team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now I guess we’ll have to get our book learnin’ from Wal-Mart, Save-On-Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, and London Drugs in this town. Then again, those four places are probably a major factor as to why The Book Shelf was no longer viable, since all offer their own varying discounts on new releases, though none hold any kind of back-catalogue or ordering ability like The Book Shelf.

Yet another sad day for literacy, not unlike the music industry.

On the brighter side, I really enjoyed the hour or so I spent reading If Only for I think the fourth time now. I was getting sufficiently excited by its passages, as though I remember the overall arch of the book, some of the little things had slipped from my memory in the three or so years I think it’s been since I last read it, and others that I did remember just brought up a feeling of nostalgia from previous read-throughs. I was also thinking about how long it’s been since the book was written (1998-1999), and how much I loved – nay, love – the Spice Girls.

I listened to Geri’s Schizophonic album while I read, then again when I was able to freely sing along on my walk back to my car without upsetting any coffee fiends. I think I may well end up watching both Spice Girls: The Movie – which was the first I ever saw twice in theatres – and the special I have taped on VHS that I recently found when unpacking things I’d stored at my parents’ house called Geri that follows her after her departure from the group. I make no guarantees that I’ll be able to then stop myself from also watching the Spice Girls concert at Whembly Stadium that I also have on VHS, or Spice Girls in America: A Tour Story.

Maybe now that I’m reading Geri’s book again I’ll be able to hold myself back from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love for the fifth summer in a row. I’m beginning to worry that if I don’t give it a rest at least for one full year I might start to recite the pages in my sleep.

And will be California Dreamin’ no more.

Alright, that’s probably not true. Chances are pretty good that post Epic Road Trip I will only and always be California Dreamin’.

My countdown stands at 38 days until I leave Squamish (or possibly Vancouver, I haven’t exactly decided just yet) and head south for the Animal Rights National Conference put on by FARM USA to get my education on.

First stop will obviously be Seattle, but probably not for very long. I’m thinking long enough to find a Trader Joe’s (which I’ve never been to) if I haven’t already stopped at one before I hit Space Needle City to stock up on supplies, then Mighty-O Donuts for fuel to spur me on to Portland!

I’m so excited for Portland! To my clear knowledge I’ve never been there – I do recall a trip that my family took in our motor home down to see my Mom’s aunt in the states when I was 9 or 10ish, but I don’t really know where that was (she’s moved a couple of times). I don’t think we left Washington.

The heart palpitations I feel for Portland are only slightly dwarfed by how over the moon I am that I’ll be going to San Francisco the next day, before continuing on to Los Angeles.

I can’t wait to put my inklings to the test and find out once and for all if San Francisco really is where my heart would like to call home. Don’t worry, I’ll be coming back to Canada – for now. I’m not yet ready for such a huge shift as a cross-boarder move. The up-the-highway move to Squamish from Vancouver last August is still plenty enough living by the seat of my pants for me for right now.

Golden Gate, here I come!

Save Me San Francisco

I’m also looking forward to all the good vegan eats from here to LA and back, as well as my return trip travel mates’ and my plan to visit Farm Sanctuary on the way home, and hopefully VegNews if they’ll let us.

If you’re reading this and have suggestions of places I (as right  now it looks like I’ll be travelling solo on the way down) or we (on the way back) should stop between Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles for good vegan eats or other vegan-related goodness, please do let me know in the comments!

I’m sure I’ll be letting everyone know how the trip goes, even if not until I get back at the end of July.

This summer, I’m looking forward to a lot of concerts – the Vancouver Folk Festival, Live at Squamish, and Ben Harper, along with Said the Whale, Hey Ocean!, Hannah Georgas, Neko Case, Mother Mother, The Be Good Tanyas, Dan Mangan, and Daniel Wesley, who will all be featured acts at Summer Live, a three-day celebration of 125 years since the city was incorporated put on by the City of Vancouver.

While Summer Live is an admission-free event, and I bought my ticket to Ben Harper, I’ll be volunteering at both the Vancouver Folk Festival and Live at Squamish – which is also what I did last summer. This will be my fourth year at Folk Fest, and it’s the highlight of my year (though this year it may have some pretty stiff competition from my road trip down to Los Angeles for the Animal Rights National Conference that I’ll be leaving for the Monday after the ‘Fest).

There are a lot of reasons and factors that contribute to how amazing the Folk Festival is in both my mind and my soul, and volunteering makes it extra-special. The music, the commradery of attendees and between the bands who perform alongside one another, the beauty of Jericho Park and the beach just outside the fences, and the ideas that are floated, not the least of which is that a better world is possible. Then on the inside track that volunteering gives you access to are the delicious, hot food that’s provided (with vegan options! and a lot of the musicians eat with the regular folk all weekend, too), space near the side of the main stage to watch the headliners from, and a wrap party that the two years I’ve gone to has gone on waaaaay past 2am and leaves your legs pretty upset with you the next couple of days from all the dancing.

 

Luluc at the Vancouver Folk Festival last summer

 

If you happen to be so lucky as I know I am, volunteering might just give you the opportunity to meet someone famous. For me, that was Michael Franti the first year I volunteered (who was also the reason I volunteered). I got the chance to talk to him when he was in the fenced off backstage area within the larger backstage area that is the volunteers’ space, and gave him some Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies I’d made for him. Now that was the highlight of my summer, for sure. And I was in awe – he really had a quality about him that I can only describe as majesty, and I felt like he really knew a lot about this world, and was probably harbouring an old soul.

So far I’ve mostly talked about what I’ve gotten out of volunteering that’s easily measurable, but there’s so much more to it. I’ve also been fortunate enough in the past to participate in what was then a 9-month stint in Katimavik, and I learned an unending list of things about the world, myself, and communicating and living with people. It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world, and it involved a lot of hours of volunteering. 40 per week, plus occational extras, to be exact. And some of it definitely felt back breaking, and a few days even involved bruises that had me almost worried for my internal organs (those days involved going into a logging site, selecting suitable logs, and hauling them out by hand to a waiting truck to be transported back to our work sponsor’s backyard, where we then spent something like a week peeling the bark off of them to ready them for their next incarnation as a foot bridge on one of the trails we were maintaining as part of our volunteering in Port Alberni, BC).

Katimavik is an amazing, coast-to-coast example of just what volunteering does not only for yourself, but also for those you volunteer for. A 2002 study about the program determined that the net impact to benefit the Canadian economy through the program (taking into account factors such as a participant’s increased employability at the conclusion of the program as a result of skills learned therein) is $8,812 per participant. That’s dang impressive, especially when you consider that approximately 1,000 youth aged 17-21 participate in the program every year.

What I wanted to point out here is that, even though probably a majority of Canadians have never heard of Katimavik (basing this solely on my own story preface of, ‘Have you heard of Katimavik?’ and the percentage of people who have vs. who haven’t heard of the program), you’ve probably benefitted either directly or indirectly in some way because of it.

Katimavictims as we like to call ourselves (Will Ferguson also wrote a memoir of his time spent in Katimavik in its 80s hey-day, called I Was A Teenage Katimavictim, which only spurred us on in my group) hold such positions as my own trail building, data entry, and high school library assistance, as well as in food banks, at Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, in daycares, at museums, and all sorts of non-profits you may never have heard of, thought of, or realized were non-profit.

So there’s just a little taste of what volunteering can do for you, along with what it might be doing for you right now – whether you’re aware or oblivious of it. I highly recommend volunteering. I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time, or at least it doesn’t really feel like it when I’m at my current recurring gig Co-Hosting the Animal Voices Radio Show in Vancovuer every week. That’s an opportunity I’ve wanted since I was 10 years old, and am now seeing come to fruition. It’s also something that wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t willing and ready to volunteer when opportunities come my way.

I’d like to invite you to try volunteering today, be it as a means to get in to a concert, or scrubbing cages and floors at an animal shelter. You’ll be a better and happier version of yourself if you do.