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Archive for August, 2009

Suite Life

Beat today, but feeling so so good.

Since coming back from the Island on Friday, it’s been a pretty hectic weekend of errands and chores. We have been in this house since April, and since that time, too, an ex of Meg’s has been living with us. We’d promised to build a suite for him in the new place, giving him a place to live at a decent price, and giving us a little extra income and a tenant we know and like, who can help watch the dog and water the garden when we’re out of town. A good little deal on all ends. But the suite construction took substantially longer than any of us anticipated, and the last couple of months it seems that everyone has been kinda ready for it to be done.

We work fine as room-mates, to be sure. But he’d like a place to call his own, we’d like to get he extra room back so we can set up our office and unpack the remaining books, and Mica – well, Mica has been going with the flow, but really could use the settling in that only really happens once the household reaches its stable configuration.

Anyway, after many ups and downs, we finally can see the end in sight, and Meg and I have decided that we will do as much of the remaining work as possible ourselves, so as to try to have the place ready for D as of September 1st. Not much hard work, but lots of little projects that together add up in time and effort – installing shelving and blinds, arranging final plumbling hookup, paint touch-ups, hanging of the final cabinets. That kinda thing.

So, this weekend has involved many trips to pick up supplies, much racing up and down the basement stairs, frustration when things don’t hang just right and elation when they do. Add to that a trip to get all the materials for several large planter boxes and planning of how we will set them up when we reconfigure the backyard, back to school shopping for Mica and the making of a fall school/ classes/ work schedule, and it’s all been pretty busy around here.

But so so good.

Through it all, we’ve had time for a board game or two. We’ve had moments to escape into our upstairs sanctuary for long baths and reading aloud from Tess of the Urburvilles. We’ve had fabulous meals – tonight’s feature a tortellini with prawn and prosciutto in a white wine/ cream sauce made for us by Mica, who is learning to cook one meal per week for the family. And before evening’s end, Meg will have some time with her writerly circle, I will have some hanging out with Mica, and we’ll have a fresh blackberry pie before bed.

Can’t complain. Indeed no.

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New Morning

What a difference a few hours can make.

Up late (for me – that being after 8:00), after a long phone call with my girl and an opportunity for us both to unload our stresses and confusions with each other. Mine a pretty generalized anxiety made worse by a bad day of interactions with my ex on parenting issues and fall schedules, Meg’s an often-simmering struggle with the unenviable role of step-mom that sometimes spills over when we ht a particularly bump patch in parenting-across-homes.

But a couple of hours to talk and cry and reach out to each other across the phone lines and everything is so so much better. It’s been a couple of days apart, with me in Fanny Bay visiting my folks and Meg in Nanaimo at union meetings – and I am so ready to be back with her again, so ready to get back to our home and our garden. Woke up today with hope and happiness. And so so thankful for this girl in my life.

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Altered Ego

A strange day today. OK, let’s just be honest. A shitty day today, and for no reason in particular. I’m out of the city, steps from the ocean, spent yesterday picking blackberries and feeling good. And today, went for an hour-long bike ride down rural roads had an afternoon kayak paddle,  and sat on the beach listening to local musicians sing and play for a few hours this evening. These are not bad things. No, they are good things, and things that normally would save a day for me.

But no. Instead have since morning been stewing, something unsettled in me that is not the depression or anxiety of recent weeks, but something closer to anger.And y’know what? I am getting pretty tired of this emotional turmoil of late. Pretty fucking tired of it indeed.

There’s really no point getting into the details. Because, really, there is absolutely nothing wrong. I’ve done some personal writing and processing of shit, and felt yesterday like I’d made a bit of a breakthrough on that count. And today, something else, but no less of a drag.

However, I am noting something. All this is damn good for the song-writing process, as lines and choruses are coming up one after the other, giving me pages of future material to work with. And noting, in particular, how this particular emotional place lends itself to more country-kinda music – all beer and loathing and whining, that special combination of angry male aggression and alcohol-fueled self-pity that is what defines the genre.

And so, today I am trying to go with it, to let the feelings become darker, take me to places and thoughts that normally would be no-entry zones, and to some extent actively basking in this space because it might be good for some music somewhere down the line.  Of course, that means as well that I only dig myself deeper into the shit. But so be it. Rarely do I get to imagine how good it would feel to punch out a wall, to fantasize about all the ultimatums and demands I would so like to impose on the world, to play not the guy who’ll suck it up and work on his shit but the guy who lashes out at will and feels no remorse in turning his back on the world and simply walking away. And it is kinda refreshing, I admit – even if only momentarily so.

Last year, when Meg and I went to Calgary, we spent a morning shopping, and I came out with a suede hat and a new casual jacket. Meg commented that I looked like the sociologist version of Indiana Jones, which launched us into character development mode. Walking through the park, we devised plans for a little mock blog, an alter-ego sociologist character for me we named Buck Hardy. We set the blog up, and I wrote just a couple of little posts playing with this guy. Didn’t last long, but was kinda fun for a few minutes, though he hasn’t done much of anything since those first days.

Well, today I’ve been thinking about Buck and imagining/ wishing I were a little more like him. What would Buck Hardy do with an emotional state like mine? Well, the answer to that one is easy. Buck wouldn’t ever find himself in this situation, cause he is one of those mythical male figures with who feels nothing for anyone and whose great charm and attractiveness comes from the fact that he is made of nothing but booze and sex and cigarettes. Buck doesn’t feel depressed. Buck doesn’t miss people. Buck doesn’t wish he were a little more of this or a little less of that. Nope. Like every cowboy movie star, like the Indiana Jones he loves to hate, Buck Hardy is too busy drinking, fucking, fighting and being brilliant to collapse into the kind of state I’m in lately.

Do I want to be that guy? No. But damn it’s nice to pretend sometimes, Even if all that comes of it is a few lines of some future song.

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So, we had planned a week long kayak trip in Desolation sound, and were super-excited about it. For a number of reasons, that ended up needing to be re-thought, and we prepped instead for a few days paddle-camping around Rum and Portland Islands, off Victoria. However, date of departure saw crazy-ass fog, winds and rain, and Meg and I bailed on the trip and the friends who were to guide us – this being our first kayak adventure, and we feeling that we were not up to the challenges of the weather this first time out. Just as well, since be eyesight had so drastically deteriorated by that point that I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of me in the best of conditions.

(Oh yes, for those unaware – I have discovered I have super-bad cataracts that have been stealing my vision. Went in last week to have one lens removed and replaced with an artificial one, and will have the second eye done sometime this fall. Sight is certanly welcome back into my life, as it’s been incredibly hard living near-blind these past months.)

So, back to it. we ditch the kayak plan, hop in the car and head for the mainland, and decide – what the hell, let’s drie to Manning Park, camp, paddle about the lake in canoes, and spent a day in the interior buying fruit for canning. And so we did, and so I decided in  flash of genius that we should spend this Thanksgiving with as many people as possible camping on Lightning Lake in the cold and dreary fall, and making out Thanksgiving feast on the campfire.

Well, Meg got excited. So far, though, we have not had much in the way of enthusiastic response.

And so, let me toss it out here once again, less because it is going to generate response – indeed I think we are now resigned to the fact this trip will not happen, as we won’t have the 20 or so people we need for a group site – and more just to have somewhere to store this little idea so that we might come back and revisit it again sometime in the future.

Miracle Adventure Camping with Anarchists and Grizzly Bears – a fast-fading dream….

The Event:
Miracle Adventure Camping with Anarchists and Grizzly Bears

The Dates: October 9-12
Thanksgiving, indeed. But a Thanksgiving dinner cooked on open flame at lakeside.

The details:
Carloads of East Van radicals descend upon a group campground at Manning Park on Friday, October 9th. Saturday we canoe, fish, play music, sing songs, hike, drink beer, eat well, and complain about the cold and probable rain.
Sunday we do more of the same, but devote some portion of our day to preparation of a Thanksgiving dinner on Lightning Lake. We eat too much, we drink too much, we laugh loudly and often. We are likely cursed by the children we send to bed and then keep awake with our carryings-on.

The location:
Manning Park, of course, is a short three hour drive – far enough to ditch the city, not so far that it can’t be easily achieved on a Friday after work or with any children who might be coming along.
Lone Duck Campground on Lightning Lake. This is a gorgeous spot, flanked by mountains. Group campsites include a large covered area, several picnic tables, and a woodstove, all of which make it possible to have a big-ass outdoor party even in the middle of October.

The commitment:
If this is going to happen, we need to book a site, and that means we have enough committed participants to make it happen. So, let us know as soon as possible if you are in for sure, or in possibly, or simply not in at all.

Ooooh yeah.

Well, that was the idea anyway.

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End of Season

OK, time once again to hit the re-set button.

I am not entirely sure why this blog has been so neglected for so many months. It has been a busy summer, to be sure, but there has also been ample time for writing, so that is no excuse. It has been a reflective summer in many ways – much time spent in thought whether that be personal, political, or whatever, many things to rant about, many things to process. And much writing, too – just none of it here. So, mostly, I suppose, I can only chalk it up to laziness – or at least something that began as laziness and then, as time passed, just seemed too overwhelming to begin again.
But now, here we are nearing the end of the summer, nearing the return to school and work and routine, and I am feeling, at last, ready to start regular posts again.
Most who read this blog also read Megan’s, or at least use it as a cross-reference, so I will send you there for the full summer activities update – the days alone amid old growth and white sand on the magical Flores Island; the cancelled kayak journey which led instead to an impromtu interior run and 85 pounds of fruit to preserve for winter; the gardening/ landscape plans we have made and which are about to begin in earnest and which can be followed on Meg’s new gardening blog – including raised beds, mason bees, a renovated backyard studio, water features, hot tub and perhaps a fig tree; The seemingly constant coming and going from Vancouver; Mica’s trip to Costa Rica, missing her greatly and a few days of quite intense worry about my parenting failures. Yes, it has been full, no question.And more to come this last week of summer, with a wedding to attend, a suite to finish so Darren can have his own space, and already many plans for the fall  – from home projects to heavy metal shows to musical friends and dinner parties.

Can’t really complain, can I?

And more substantively for me? Continuing to write songs regularly which is much fun – some terrible, most mediocre, a few quite good. Tracked down someone on craigslist to bring his guitar over and swap songs every couple of weeks, which has been nice. Have missed playing with Meg, as she’s been focused on garden and writing of late, and not that oriented towards music. Miss her voice with mine, her fiddle picking out a tune over my chords. Missed it alot, in fact. But over the last couple of weeks she’s picked it up again in preparation for a wedding at which she will be playing – so good to have her violin and voice filling the house regularly again.

And some struggles for me lately – not real struggles, but those imaginary emotional ones we face now and then – or I do anyway. Y’know, when something appears as a problem or a failure, and you can’t stop thinking about it. Loss of confidence, disturbing thoughts and visions that can’t be shaken, the sense of failure that follows as one becomes aware that this emotional state is not healthy, that it is spilling over into real life and impacting real relationships. Yeah, that stuff. Much worry, much anxiety, much hurt, and too many days of not sleeping well, of spending the hours I should have been in bed restless instead, tossing and turning or sitting up stewing, crying through the night.

Over now, I hope, the last couple of days finally feeling like I have processed enough to escape the worst and rebuild. Finally feeling I can leave behind two weeks of being my worst, and begin again to be at my best. I am committed to it, in any event.

Yes, that was the summer that was. And this the crappy first catch-up post that is.

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