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Thursday, April 28, 2005

RESCUED!

WEDNESDAY.
I used to write on another journal site, rememory.com. I wrote there for a couple of years, not just daily journal entries but sometimes little stories or poetry. Then, suddenly last November the site went down. Unfortunately, I hadn't been diligent in saving or printing out my writing for the previous year, so I lost everything. It's like the song says "You don't know what you've lost til it's gone..." and I couldn't really remember exactly what I had written over the year that had disappeared into cyberspace.

Well, what to my surprise (and delight) the other week when a former rememory writer emailed me to inform me that the site was back up again. I checked. And all my entries were there, including those I'd written back in the summer of 2003 when I was traveling around Greece with my friends. So the past week I've been printing out these old entries. And wow! Am I ever pleased to get them back. Because among the mundane daily writings, are some real gems, 'keepers', bits of wisdom, travel adventures and commentaries I realize are too precious to be lost forever. I'm so grateful to get them back, to be able to 'rescue' them.

Now I'll be more careful to save, and also to copy onto my word files so I can save them onto disks. Written words are as precious as gold because they are part of your character, your soul and your intimate thoughts. Once they've been spoken, they are out there in the cosmos, and if you don't save them (the written words, for sure) they are gone forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

THIS BUSY WEEK

MONDAY. Such lovely warm weather makes you want to be outdoors all day. And today I had to make a trek uptown, doctor's appointment, and I took the opportunity to walk along the main street, browse in shops and enjoy the sunshine. I was feeling extra-special good after the doctor's appointment which was all good news re my health. If I have aches and pains right now it's 'cause I'm sitting too long at the computer and now getting enough exercise i.e.: the gym and waterfit (and it looks like I'll miss again tomorrow. Oh darn!)

Tonight my writer's group was here. Another jolly night of sharing our readings and having a good time with these wonderful people. We are all excited as this week is one of our bi-annual retreats to the island so we have been busily planning our activities, theme (Romantic Springtime) and food. We leave Friday, return Sunday night. And it looks good for the weather report!

Suddenly my social calendar is full again this week: Lunch with my Grad Class ladies tomorrow, then a class in the evening. Wed: I'm hoping to meet my Havana buddy after class and listen to some jazz at the L.Q. Thurs: After Memoir class, lunch with my actor friend, the beautiful Di. then another class at night. Friday: Yay! Off to the island!
Somewhere in there I must get more writing done. I hate to stop the momentum since I've been doing so well up til now and it doesn't take much to break the chain.

Oh yes, and flowers! I bought a few flowers to plant in my balcony garden. And tomorrow I'll get few more. It's beginning to really look like Springtime around here!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

OUT OF THE BLUE

SUNDAY EVENING. I was just cleaning out my little letter file and there I found a letter from my friend Graham ... a voice out of the blue, one week after he passed away. He had just moved into his new house over on the island of Evvia when he wrote it.
"Still sooo much to do and sooo little time...See you next year? Cheers, Graham."
This must have been sent before the year's end, obviously and I forgot I had it because I can't remember when I last phoned him, and the letter had his new phone number on it. I used to call him from time to time, especially at events like Christmas time, so perhaps I did and I've forgotten. Anyway, it was kind of a touching discovery, this letter. I felt sad after I read it.
I had so looked forward to seeing him again.

How can we know when our time is up? Obviously Graham had no idea he was suffering from a fatal illness.

Well, on to cheerier things..I also discovered a letter from another Athens friend (who is an American woman who divides her time between Florida and Greece and sometimes Turkey.) It looks like she'll be there the same time as me so I better write and let her know!

Here were are at the last week of the month and another busy week coming up. Time will fly by quickly. And soon it wil be me, flying off into the Greek sun once again!

TRIP PLANS!

SUNDAY. I just have breakfast with my friend Ingrid, and we were making phase one of our trip plans, and as of today, the count-down begins.

Mainly today we discussed our proposed hike from Cheptsow, Wales to Tintern Abbey on the Wye Valley Walk, possibly returning via the Offa's Dyke Path. I've done both before and it is spectacular! Our plan is to arrive in Chepstow early Friday morning, May 27 and proceed from there up the trail which goes through the old-growth forests, over fields and stiles along the River Wye to the beautiful ruins of Tintern Abbey. The next day, we'll go on to Caerphilly where my cousins live and spend a day rambling around the old castle there. (There is also a castle in Chepstow which is interesting.)

We are meeting up with our friend M.J. in London on May 24. Just imagine the three of us loose in London! Whooeee! It's all familiar ground to me as I've been many, many times, but this is Ingrid's first trip to Europe so she is very excited about it.

The second phase of our trip is to Greece, May 30. Of course I am very excited about that as it is a return to my 'second home'. Today we discussed going to Hydra Is. for a day trip as that's where the Canadian poet Leonard Cohen used to live during the '70's. Again I will be Ingrid's tour guide around Greece and we have some intresting destinations planned (her choices).
For one thing we are going to Kefalonia and Ithaka. There are some villages on Kefalonia I have not visited (been there twice before) and in particular I'd like to see a small village where Lord Byron used to stay. I believe they even have a plaque on the house he stayed in. I've been to a lot of Byron sites in Greece and thought I might do a little travel article on that theme.
So perhaps we'll get in a day-trip to Mesallonghi, the town where he died, as there is a little museum in his honour there. (Byron is an icon in Greece!)

It just occured to me that between the Tintern-Wye Valley Walk (Wordsworth), visiting Hydra (Cohen) and Kefalonia (Byron) and Ithaka (Homer) this will be a poet's journey. An interesting focus for our trip!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

THREE MEN IN THE MOON

FRIDAY. I wrote for five hours today and then contemplated going out. Decided that I would as my plans for tomorrow are sketchy. So I roused myself, got my costume selected and off I went (late, as usual).

I began feeling a bit nostalgic when I was walking to the Drive. I almost let myself slip back into a melancholy mood. But then, I looked up at the moon, and it suddenly struck me: Roberto and Graham and Mitso were up there in the Heavens, probably sipping ouzo and looking down on me. "Go out and have a good time!" the seemed to be saying.

So I went to the LQ. It seemed strangely subdued even though it was late, and I wondered what was going on. I sat up at the bar next to a couple of guys. It turned out that they were Greeks. (One I know from before). And they were speaking Greek which was so fantastic to hear again.

For a joke, I tapped Elias on the shoulder and spoke to him in Greek, telling him I was going to Greece on June 1. He was so surprised he almost fell off his bar stool.
"Elenika einai?" He asked. Are you Greek? No, I explaiined I was just "filahellene" (a friend of Greece). Throughout the night after that he spoke to me occasionally in Greek. And I eavesdropped on his conversation with his friend, trying to recognize as many words as I could. It was odd, how the minute I heard it in conversation I began to remember the language. (But I still need to review and listen to my tapes. I forget so much when I am here.)

I had an excellent evening. People kept telling me how beautiful I looked (Lord knows I needed that). I danced by myself when there wasn't any partners but I did get told what a great dancer I was! And I listened to the Greeks talk which was the most special part of the evening.

I kept thinking of those three guy friends of mine up there in the realm of the Moon and I know they were getting a kick out of the evening too.

So now I don't feel sad anymore. I am so excited about going back to Greece. And I have the whole weekend yet to enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A FULL MOON BEAMING DOWN

THURSDAY. The positive energy is definitely returning along with the warmer weather and lots of sunshine. I feel better today, no more aches, more pep, only the occasional moment of melancholy. In all, it was a fine day. And then I noticed tonight the great full moon beaming down. Of course! A full moon night. No wonder the energy is so positive!

Both my groups today were excellent. This morning at my Memoirs class we had some wonderful conversations and discussion. They are an amazing group of women. Afterwards I went for lunch with my friend M. who has just returned from a trip to New York. So the lunch time conversation was interesting too.

I did a bit of browsing around uptown, went to the library to return a video, looked in my favorite dress shop which, alas! is closing. They had a sale on but didn't have the sizes in the tops I wanted to buy. Came home to just spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Then off to my travel writing class tonight.

Another delightful time. These people I meet in my classes are so interesting and the travel writers always have fascinating stories to tell. I rode home on the bus with one of the fellows who is a photographer who's spent a lot of time in Brazil.

So it was a day of great conversation, interesting company and quite a lot of laughs which really helped dispel the gloom of the past week. I had a few melancholy moments, even found myself dwelling on that certain person who used to be but now isn't so present in my thoughts. But then, when I got home there was actually an email from him explaining why I hadn't heard from him all week. He had a bit of a disaster too.

Friday tomorrow. The weekend coming up with a few social events to look forward to. And when I counted it out tonight, it's only five weeks before I'll be flying off to London!

COMING TO TERMS WITH LOSS

Wednesday. It took me a few days for it to sink in and to start feeling the loss of another good friend. By last night I couldn't sleep, got up in the middle of the night to draft a blog "Requiem" which I've posted on my other blog site: http://wynnbexton.blogspot.com
I started counting all the friends from Athens who have passed on in the last few years. There's so many that when I started to think of the survivors I could almost count them on one hand.
That is, friends from the notorious "Dirty Corner" days in the '80's, and some who hung out at the current favorite spot, the To Kati Allo Taverna on Hatzichristou St. No matter how many times you experience the loss of a friend or family member or even an aquaintence, it isn't any easier. To think you will never see them again, never talk to them. NEVER is such an overwhelming thought.

It happened that today was my friend Graham's birthday. I found out from a friend of his who emailed me. So at supper I made a special little dinner and poured a glass of zinfandel and drank to his memory. And tonight, at the LQ after my class, when Laura was singing those nostalgic ballads, I almost started to cry. Graham was a music aficionado and especially liked jazz ballads. We used to talk about music a lot and sing songs when things reminded us of them.

The other thing I found out today was that it was colon cancer that he had and that made my episode on Sunday night even eerier. A similar thing happened when Roberto was dying the hospice in Athens. I could actually 'feel' that I was there with him, dreamed of him, like an astral travel, so I was standing by his bed. The night he died I was in the bathroom getting ready to go out and I said a little prayer for him, and spoke to him, knowing he was close to leaving. Just then something squeezed my hand so tightly that my ring bent and squeeze onto my finger so I couldn't get it off. It was the strangest thing, like Roberto had squeezed my hand. I calculated later that it may have been around the moment he left us.

Well, it helps to write about this. It eases the pain of the loss. I'm sure though, when I get to Athens and go to the taverna, I'm going to really feel the full impact of his absence. I still find myself looking for Roberto to come down the street. I still often 'imagine' him sitting there across the table from me. I will miss Graham the same way. His spirit will haunt Hatzichristou Street for some time to come.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A VERY STRANGE CO-INCIDENCE

Monday. I've been feeling ill all day. Last night, during the night, I was up several times with extreme abdominal pains, like an attack of colitis. I was laying in bed thinking of how my cousin Ray had died of colon cancer, and feeling so sick I was imagining how terrible it must have been for him. Thoughts of 'death' crossed my mind and I dismissed them as morbid thoughts because I was feeling so terrible. Then, first thing this morning I got a call from Athens, from my friend Dinaz, telling me our good friend Graham had passed away that morning (during our middle-of-the night time) of stomach cancer. A weird co-incidence? Or a psychic connection? I knew weeks ago that he was in hospital and had been operated on but was waiting to hear the results, hoping that he might be treated and recover. Dinaz says he never rallied after the operation and had slipped into a coma last week. He was only mid-60's. We have known each other since the late '80's and hung out together a lot every time I was in Athens. He was a retired accountant from England and had just bought himself a house on the island of Evvia where he'd looked forward to spending the rest of his senior days. So sad. I'm really going to miss him when I go this June. Another friend gone. So many of them now. Each time I go there are more of them missing.

I stayed in all day, did some writing and other related tasks. Felt punk all day and had a nap before going out to my writer's group tonight. I guess I'll pass on water-fit tomorrow. I haven't any energy and feel quite rotten, and I have night school classes to teach for the next 3 days so I need to reserve my strength and recover.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

BURNING THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS = OUCH!

SUNDAY. Oh, what a weekend! By yesterday I was already burned out and although I tried to relax and catch up on some rest from the night before, I was feeling exhausted. Then I had the big party of the year to attend, which was indeed quite a gala. My twin nephews were turning 40 and the wife of Rick, the lawyer, put on this huge splash out in the Rubgy Clubhouse at the Park. There was a good DJ, loud music (which I found I could not get enthusiastic enough to dance to although my sister was dancing her buns off, first time ever!); games of Trivial Pursuit with flashing buzzers just like on games shows, lots of snacks and drinks and fun. It was great seeing everyone (my neices and nephews, sister and brother-in-law etc). But I was pretty tired when we got home, late of course. And today I felt the affects of all the partying this weekend because my cold was much worse. Just can't burn the candle at both ends like I used to!

So I didn't get any writing done today. A friend called and we went for coffee in the morning, then window-shopping and grocery shopping. Came home and laid down listening to music for an hour or so, wiped out! Then my Havana buddy called and said he could come over to watch the Cuban videos tonight. It made for a nice, relaxing evening. We enjoyed the films and agreed to get together soon for more of the same and more music too. Of course, the friendwho loaned me the films did not show up as he said he might(as usual, reminding me of my Mom's old adage "Pigs Might Fly"). It's nice to know, however, that I do have a couple of guy friends who come when they say they will and seem to enjoy my company enough to suggest further outings or get-togethers. At least they can be relied on. I've been 'burned' enough (by candles or false promises) to have learned by now.

And tomorrow I will stay in, rest, and get all the writing done I didn't today.
Oh, one good thing, I picked up a Celtic Connection newspaper today on the Drive and there was a two-page spread of my Welsh Coal-Mines story! A good incentive. (Too bad that publication doesn't pay, though!)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

FRIDAY, It's been a long and interesting day. Lots of activity. And here it is already Saturday and I am writing this what is now a 'memoir' of yesterday.

For starters, I worked at the daycare mainly as a filler because the licensing bitch was there to observe (and find whatever stupid pickies was possible). What annoys me about this (after 33 odd years of daycare work) is that these people do not work with the children or families but they make up the rules and criticize the programs and workers. I know this particular woman. She's been around for (not quite) so long as me. But now she has the government position and a pensions. Those of us who have worked in the field for all those years have nothing but a kick in the head.

Anyway, this person came and sat there poker faced, not even a kind or friendly world to staff. Ignored me when I said hello (maybe I should have been glad or she might check my licensing and realize it expired a couple of years ago.) Other than that unpleasant interlude the day was, as it always is there, mellow and good-spirited. I love those little ones!

Got home after a short sh opping spree to buy some nice summer footwear, and found an invitation to a play. So I met my friend and attended it. The play was interesting in that I wanted to observe monologues for my current w.i.p. And later went to her house for a nice long chat, and then off to the LQ because I haven't been there for a whole week.

It was good. But I wanted to dance more and there weren't any partners, or at least, nobody asked me up, and after dancing on my own I felt uncomfortable about it. Like a left-over. Nobody wanted to dance with me...the older woman. (that 's the problem with the local guys. )
Gotta be seen with the young hot numbers or ???? I'm a good dancer. But I didn't get a chance...

And, as for the one I have long obsessed over.. we had a few good chats but "the thrill is gone" (as the songs says) or am I just weary of the game. At least there was some exchange. But I get the picture and no use dwelling on it. Friends? Well... that depends on what the definition is. And, as I know already, the things he says are merely dust in the wind...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

TODAY'S ENTERTAINMENT (SO FAR)

Thursday mornings I go downtown to teach a Memoirs writing class for 50+ people (this group is all women but sometimes we have men in the group). It's a great way to start off the day as the stories they write and tell are highly entertaining. Today they read last week's assignment: favorite places they'd lived in. And the timed writing this morning was about favorite childhood games or toys. We all came to the same conclusion, that kids don't have as much fun nowdays as we used to back then. For one thing, there's the safety issue (Kids can't go freely to parks or woodlands any more) and secondly the lack of imagination fostered by too much television and toys that are not condusive to creativity. (We used to often make our own). We all had a great laugh out of these stories and it brought back fond childhood memories.

After my class I always walk up busy Robson Street and browse in the shops. Today I saw a couple of pairs of summer shoes in the Pay Less Store that I am considering to treat myself to.
Then I walked farther along and, as usual, stopped to buy a Bavarian smokey with saurkraut, small bag of chips and a can of iced tea which I took to the stone bench by the Art Gallery.

The usual chess players were there. On the Art Gallery steps (which is a focal point for protestors of all kinds), a group of Chinese people were holding a big banner denouncing the Communist Chinese for censoring free speech because they are closing down a main radio station in China (the one that broke the SARS epidemic news). In front of the steps was what I thought to be a living statue: a 'naked' woman painted bronze, leaning on a silver sword. I watched for the longest time to see if she moved and thought at one point that she had changed her stance. However, when I later went and had a closeup look, it was really a beautifully carved figure, sculpted from a single piece of wood with gorgeous bronze grains. She wore a silver blindfold, was standing in silver spike-heeled shoes, and behind her back was holding a set of silver scales. The caption on the pedestel said: "If she pays for justice, she is a prostitute".

I always enjoy sitting by the Art Gallery watching the passing parade of people hurrying to and fro. Then I walk past the sidewalk artists and go to catch my bus.

The route I take home passes through one of the oldest and shabbiest parts of our beautiful city, the Downtown East Side. This is 'entertainment' of a different sort. I believe everyone who lives here should be obliged to occasional take a walk on the wild side and go through this part of town to have a good look at what is happening. It's horrifying and a real eye-opener. So many people live insulated lives, driving around in their cars, avoiding this part of the city. Yet I believe it's our duty to find out and see for ourselves exactly what is happening and then perhaps more would be done about fixing it. (If that is possible as the situation downtown has been allowed to deteriorate over the years until is has become a major blight on the city.)

I'm familiar with this part of town. On the one corner of the main avenues stands the once-magestic Carnegie Library, built at the turn of the previous century with a donation by the Andrew CarnegieFoundation. When I was a kid (12) and first moved here there used to be a wonderful museum upstairs and I'd go there every weekend to pick up books at the library and view the amazing mummy of a child from Egypt. Later, when I got out of highschool and worked for the newspaper in that part of town, I daily walked that street to and fro to the police station and often all the way to work from my home in the East End. The only derelects on the street then were an occasional drunk who'd wandered up from the Skid Road by the waterfront. And I was always fascinated by the many old Chinese bachelors around there as Chinatown is one block over and was a wonderful place to roam around. There were good shops to visit too, especially the old Woodwards building where I used to shop daily for clothing and other merchandise, and places to eat like Oscar's Oyster Bar. Now these buildings have been allowed to decay. Instead of making it imperative for downtown landlords to keep their buildings respectable, fix up old abandoned buildings for affordable housing for the poor, they have been left to disintigrate. The streets are crowded with the homeless, the mentally ill, the drug addicts, prostitutes and derelects of every kind.

It's not a pretty sight to see the crack addicts, their faces pocked with sores, stumbling around in their obvious jerky gait, often down on their knees scouring the sidewalk for pieces of abandoned crack, or the homelesss bums scrounging for bottles and butts. It's teaming with people down there day and night, because a majority of them are homeless, sleeping in doorways or under viaducts. There's always a crowd on the corner by the Carnegie which is now a community centre for the Downtown East Side people (no druggies or drunks allowed inside). The library still exists and it provides activities including a learning centre for the needy. Somewhere down there is a new safe injection site for the heroin addicts (although the merchants in Chinatown opposed it). Chinatown still bustles with people and is an intersting tourist attraction, including the Sun Yat Sen Gardens which is a small oasis of serenity in the midst of this chaos.

By the time I got home today I'd already had enough entertainment to last me for the rest of the day, but still more to come tonight after my class. I'm supposed to meet my Havana buddy to listen to some jazz, in particular a well-known singer who's a friend of his. At least it will be a mellow ending to what has already been quite an entertaining day!

AM I ONE OF THOSE WOMEN?

Last night in my novel class when people were talking about books they'd read, one woman told of a novel in which one of the protagonists was "one of those 70 year old women who dresses like they are 40." This rang a bell with me. Of course I didn't say anything or she'd have been embarassed that she had mentioned it. But it gave me pause for thought. Am I one of those women?

I've always had the advantage (born with the 'fountain of youth' genes) of looking much younger than I actually am. When I was in my 50's people thought I was in my 30's. Etc. etc.
I still look pretty young for my age (I think), and have been blessed with reasonably wrinkle-free skin -- my main body problems being those of weight gain and sagging body parts but I notice at the pool that even the skinny little Asian women of my age group have the same problems. So there isn't much can be done about it. I am botox free, have never had a tummy tuck or face lift and I think I still look pretty good. (The best 'face lift' is to keep smiling!)

Still, it makes you think, when you hear a statement like that one I heard last night. And it was on my mind today. As for my dress, I wear clothes that are "me" and I will not be catagorized by my chronological age. I've found a store that sell stylish things that fit the mature figure and that's where I chose to shop. After years of not fitting jeans I found some that are so stunningly stylish I have had many compliments on them, for instance, and I feel good in the clothes I wear. (I will admit to having looked at some very short skirts the other day but drew the line at that, although my legs might be my best asset. )

Tonight I ran into four of my guy friends after I stopping in for a glass of wine after my class.
One of them said to my "You are our inspiration!" (These are older guys, bachelors.) They told me how much they admire me for the things I do, my energy, my spirit. That was a great compliment, because they recognize me as 'the older woman' and have great respect for me.

So I feel quite good tonight about myself, because I am looking my best, keep as fit as I can (hate those aches and pains when I neglect my exercise regimine and feel better when I'm watching my diet.) I dress for me...for who I am, and what I am...and I don't think anyone ever considers that I am trying to be someone who I am not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A BIG CHESHIRE CAT MOON ON AN APRIL NIGHT

Tuesday. The first night of my novel class which went very well. Very positive vibes!
I stayed in today (no pool, no gym) because it was a terrible morning, driving rain, cold, gloomy. This April weather is so odd! Later on the sun broke through for a few glimpses. It was pouring again when I went out to go to nightschool, then clear again after with this great Cheshire Cat moon grinning down as it if was pleased with the weather joke.

I had a productive day at home making notes for my writing (trying to work out dialogues of Athenian senators). Then a young friend came over for tea and a long chat.

I rode part way home on the bus tonight with a young man from my class. Another pleasant discussion. I love my classes because of the contacts I make. The young woman who came by in the afternoon is also someone I met in one of my writing classes and we have become good friends.

Today I noticed three things: First, when I woke up in the morning I wasn't obsessing about a certain person who has occupied so much of my mind the past few years. Second -- once I did start thinking about him I again started to obsess so quickly went to work on my writing and forgot about it (a good sign!)
Third: I'm not singing and whistling so much any more around the apartment(hardly ever) since my birdie died last October. He used to love it when I sang and whistled and that's how we communicated. For a long time, when I'd whistle (out of habit) I'd then begin to feel really sad. So I quit doing it. But in the last few days I find myself suddenly singing out loud, and sometimes whistling. A good sign. And I will get a new bird but now I have to wait til after I go on my trip.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

"Getting to know you, getting to know more about you...
" Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me..."

Remember that song from "The King and I"? That's what's been happening lately, especially this weekend. I'm getting to know some friends of my who I usually only see at the L.Q.
Besides the party at the Babylonians the other night, then the dinner party last night in which it was revealed that I used to be the daycare teacher who cared for my friend Viki's son way back when...tonight I had another dinner guest, Astarte. She and I have been acquainted for several years but it's only been the last month that we have actually gotten together, talked, and have started to become real 'friends'. And it turns out she's actually almost a neighbour.

It's been quite enjoyable having these dinner guests. I do enjoy cooking and, living alone, I don't always make special things. So again tonight I had a special menu which was delicious and worth the little trouble it took to put together.

I tried a new kind of salad: A Moroccan salad with oranges, dates, walnuts, and Moroccan olives on a bed of assorted greens and a dressing of orange juice, olive oil, garlic and dijon mustard drizzled over the top. Mmmm! The main course was baby potatoes. And I did chicken breasts in a gravy made with pureed asparagus, lemon juice and cream. Asparagus was the vegetable dish. Outstanding!

Astarte and I enjoyed a long talk over dinner and some good red wine. Getting to know each other and delighted to have made this new friend.

As the Babylonian said last night "We ought to do this more often!" And I agree. I love giving dinner parties and it is so much nicer to sit with people, listen to music, talk, and enjoy each other's stories. I've promised everyone I'll do a Moroccan dinner next. Perhaps I'll try and do that as the special event before leaving for my holidays in May. Make a party out of it.

Friends are like flowers in the garden of life. It's Springtime, and the flowers are blooming!

FRIENDS AND SURPRISES!

Saturday night's alright!
I had a little dinner party tonight with my pals George, Viki and the Babylonian. George and Viki originate in the Caribbean (Guyana and Grenada) and the Babylonian is from Iraq. First surprise was when G & V got talking about their connections/backgrounds and discover many mutual friends and of course interests from their cultures. We were having a Latin American dinner, with corn-meal cakes topped with sour cream, shrimps, red pepper, and ciltrano. And I made Spanish rice, sauted shrimps in sour cream and rum sauce and red, green, yellow peppers sauted. Also salad with grapefruit, avocado, mandarin oranges and walnuts on lettuce variety with squeeze lime juice. All yummy. And of course lots of mojitos as well.

After dinner lots more talk and Viki (who's never been to my place before) was looking around at all the pictures I have. One is a collage of various aspects of my life. In one corner is a pix of me at one of the daycare I used to work at way back about '78. I'm posed with a group of children, one being a little favorite tyke, Nigel, one of the four little coloured boys who used to provide us with hours of entertainment. She asked the boys name. I told her (how could I forget Nigel?) and she gasped. It was her eldest Son! He is now 30. My god how the years fly by and what a huge co-incidence! (He was being cared for by his grandparents at the time and her sister used to drop him off at the Centre as V. was still back East. So of course I'd not met her before. ) She's the second former daycare mom who I have come in touch with, both whose sons attended that daycare at that time. The other is my friend Patricia who is now in my writing critique group after I discovered her in one of my novel writing classes. And the other day I held up the bus for a woman who was running to catch it and it turned out to be a notorious mother we had at the daycare. (I always hope she'll never recognize me as it was a long tale of drama and weirdness). Isn't it funny how the past catches up and you become connected with people from certain eras? George is also a friend I first met around that same time in '78. Talk about retro!

Anyway, that made the evening all the more special, making such a lovely connection with Viki. I'm feeling a bit exhausted, because last night we partied long at the Babylonian's house and all day today I felt like I needed a long nap but didn't get time for one. So...off to bed now after a very satisfying weekend (so far).

Friday, April 08, 2005

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE

Here is it 10.30 in the morning on a sunny Friday. Consider this a warm-up exercise because I have to start my day's writing program at 11 a.m. and I'm only just getting myself moving. Why? Because I ended up staying up til 3 a.m. watching the Papal funeral rites. Such a lot of pomp and ceremony. Fascinating. But I had to shut it off after the sacrements were served so I didn't see the whole thing.

I start out the evening last night watching "A Man For All Seasons" so it seemed suitable to carry on watching the Pope's funeral after that. The movie, by the way, was excellent. The funeral, spectacular.

Most interesting was the crowd of guests who had come to pay respects, not just the millions who thronged the streets, but the dignitaries. Who else on this earth could gather all the nations of every religion and creed together in one place like that? To see Muslims, Hindis, Buddhists, Christians and all others mingled together was really quite touching and impressive. I also found it fascinating to see the pomp and circumstance of the red-clad cardinals and all the other Church dignitaries. The choir was beautiful -- those angelic boy's voices! The entire setting was like something you'd see in a movie set, but it was 'real'.
Quite impressive. The Dean of the Cardinal's College gave such a touching homily. I was very impress with that man! (and such a gorgeous head of white hair!)

I'm not a Catholic but I think it was important to participate in some small way in showing respects to Pope John II. He was a peace maker. He didn't do much for the rights of women (and I didn't see many Nuns in the ceremony but it was nice to see young women of various nationalities included in the readings). He did bring the people of the world together on many occasions and especially on this one, his final moments on the Earth.

I do have one thought though...that if they choose an American for the new Pope it will seem somehow like an overwhelming 'conspiracy' for American domination in the world powers.
Unfortunate its enough to have Bush and his gang controlling (or trying to ) the whole world.
I'd like to see an African pope but that will likely never happen. So what about one from Latin America? I think that would be a perfect choice! (Of course, a Canadian one would be good too, but I'm not sure there's anyone in the running.)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

IN THE COMPANY OF MUSICIANS AND GOOD FRIENDS

Wednesday was a mild, nice day but I spent most of it indoors writing. Tonight, though, I went out with girlfriends to hear some Afro-Cuban jazz at a local pub. It was reminiscent of the Havana jazz festival. And who should I run into there but one of my Havana Buddies. He was with a friend who happens to be a well-known jazz singer so later I joined them and we went to the L.Q. to hear the jazz singer there. It was a fun evening, full of surprises and appearances by long-lost friends.

The music was exceptional as well, making it an all-round excellent night.

The biggest surprise was the appearance of the 3 Rascals who used to hang out at the LQ years ago. I don't often see any of them and to see the three together was quite a treat. Crazy guys, always good for a laugh. Two of them ended up walking me home, insisting on it even though they were staggering drunk.

So, after a successful day of writing and a fantastic night of music and meeting friends, I am feeling well-fullfilled. Tomorrow my first session of Memoirs writing begins for the Spring. I am looking forward to that, too!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN

A soggy Tuesday. Started off with waterfit which is always fun. Then I went for coffee with a new friend from there. By the time I got home, umbrella blowing inside out a few times in the gusts of wind and rain, I was a bit exhausted so didn't get much writing done today. Just a few notes. Then out in the storm again tonight to chair the writer's club downtown.

I'm the usually absent chairperson as by next Tuesday my night school classes will begin again and I can't give those up for this other position with is volunteer. It's a good group though, and there's some fine young people who have joined, talented writers. And tonight an interesting newcomer from Nepal who has had several books published there, travel memoirs etc. One thing about belonging to these various writer's groups and attending readings etc, also teaching the classes, I meet such interesting people and have enriching experiences as a result. It's unfortunate I can't be at the West End group more frequently and I'd like to 'resign' from my chairperson position, but they say the 'need' me to help keep it co-ordinated. So I do my best from afar with the help of co-chairs and others who don't mind conducting the workshop meetings once in awhile. You can see the excellent website the club has at:
www.wewriters.com Because of it we have outreach to writers all around the country.

Tomorrow, as it seems the rain has set in again, I'll just stay home and get my own writing done. I hear there's some Cuban music playing at a local pub tomorrow night. Sounds like something worth taking in. Living on this "Wet" Coast, you learn to cope with the drizzle and downpours. The rain doesn't stop anyone here from having a good time!

SUNSHINE AND SMILES

Monday. Sunshine today, although once in awhile when a cloud passed by it felt quite chilly and there is some new snow up on the mountains.

I spent an enjoyable day at the daycare with the kidlets. A couple of new little tots there, one wee girlie just over a year old who cried a lot unless she was on your knee or holding on to your finger. Another little fellow who is wired for sound and quite the characters. They call him "Austin Powers". I had to put the restraint hold on him at nap-time because he was a bundle of nervous energy ready to erupt. Eventually another supervisor got him calmed down and asleep. The nicest thing about the day was being able to be outside in the playground. The birds were singing most joyously, the sun shining, and the gardens abloom with a variety of pretty spring flowers.

After work I took the bus to my friend Allan's where our writer's group was meeting tonight.
As I stepped off the bus I saw a flower shop with some gorgeous pansies so I bought four different varieties for my balcony boxes. Yes! Spring is definitely here!

The writer's group meeting tonight (Scribblers) was excellent and another fun-filled evening. One of our members writes brilliant humour and we were rolling on the floor laughing. It does the soul good to have a good hearty laugh once in awhile. It's such a fantastic group. I love them all. And pretty soon it's going to be our bi-annual retreat to the island which we are really looking forward to.

In all, it was a perfect start to the week. I'm looking forward to the rest of it with a variety of fun activities planned. Next week my night school classes start so it will be my busy time. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of my Spring Break and hopefully get more writing done.

(Oh yes, another good bit of news today was from a local Celtic newspaper who says they will published my "Coal Pits of Wales" article.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

SUNDAY DINNER WITH FRIENDS

Sunday. I intended to spend some of it writing but ended up spending half of that time fighting with my printer. Uninstalled and reinstalled the program and now there's something screwy with the fax line. And, the printer is still not working properly. Oh dear! And my techie guy is in England. What to do?

I had to leave it and head out to the 'burbs to have dinner with my friend and her family. Met another friend at the skytrain and we headed out together. It was a happy family gathering. I adore my friend's two grandsons, The Magnificent Omar and handsome young Yusef. Quite the little guys. And, as usual, the meal was a feast and a great time was had by all. (and I came home with the usual doggie bag of left-overs plus my friend's daughter gave me an early Mother's Day gift. So nice of her!)

So here I am at home and now I have to figure out this fax thingy. I am so not techie minded and these machines stump me totally. Shall fiddle with it awhile, then off to bed early tonight because believe it or not, I have a full day of work with the kidlets tomorrow. So, chalk up another nice weekend. And somehow the sun even managed to shine now and then!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

DANCIN' THE NIGHT AWAY

Suzaki came for dinner tonight. I cooked Italian: chicken cacciatore. We had some wine, talked a lot, and then headed off to dance the night away at the L.Q. It was an odd night there, none of the usual 'regulars', crowded and a lot of loud talking for the first part, then the dinner crowd cleared out and it was not too bad. Of course, as always, we love the band (Sumalao) and the Latin music. And most of all we love dancing together. Then our friend the Babylonian arrived so we had a threesome. Then other guys began to invite us to dance. So it was quite the night. Everyone in a good mood. A good long talk with my friend who I'd had a quarrel with recently and he made a big appology to me so that really made me feel good. We had several good talks through the night and just before I left to come home. So, in all it was an excellent night. I do love salsa music!

The day has been strange weather-wise. It was bright and sunny early in the morning. I had to sort out material for handouts for my night school classes and intended to get out of the house early while the sun was shining. But it took me four hours non-stop (not even for a lunch break) to get the stuff organized. Then I had to go across town to the school board office. By then it was grey and cloudy. By the time I got to the office it was raining. I hadn't worn my anorak, but I did have my umbrella fortunately. I stopped on the way home to buy some runners (got a really good deal on those, New Balance, on sale! Then homeward with a stop to buy groceries for dinner. By then it was pouring rain. Soaking everything. And a blustry wind that blew out my umbrella and broke one of the spokes. I went into the super market. Couldn't have been there for more than half an hour and when I came out the sun was shining. Thank goodness I didn't have to walk home in that drenching downpour!

The whole day was rather exhausting, but going out tonight with my pal and dancing was so much fun that I feel rejuvenated. Here it is well past the midnight hour and I'm still up.
But, another busy day tomorrow, so I better get my beauty sleep. This is one of those weekends where the social calendar is full right up!

Friday, April 01, 2005

A RAINY NIGHT IN MY TOWN

I wasn't going to write here tonight, but here I am, some final thoughts for the day and thinking up some monkey business for the morning (April Fool's Day). I remember the tricks my Mom used to play on us and catch us every time! The empty egg shell in the egg-cup like it was a hard-boiled egg for breakfast; the 'there's a horse out on the lawn!" gag. We were so gullible.
I don't have anyone here to play a trick on tomorrow. Today my printer was playing tricks on me. I fought with the sucker all afternoon. It simply refuses to co-operate. And I really need to have those pages printed out so I can do my editing and get on with my writing.

Tonight I braved the weather (a really winter-like downpour) and went to take in some magical realism readings at a rather nice little coffee shop venue called "Our Town". I was tired, and after last night's rather boring offerings at the downtown venue, I wasn't sure I felt like going. However, I am certainly glad that I did. It was a delightful evening and the readers were excellent and highly entertaining. It went on long, though and I wanted to leave, but a friend of mine was making her public reading debut so I stayed. And I am glad I did as I was most impressed.

So then, home (and it was a long way to go), very late and pouring down in buckets. Had to wait around at bus stops getting drenched (even with an umbrella the rain soaks through).
They say we're in for a few days of it. Oh well, as the verse goes:
March Winds, April Showers
Bring forth May flowers.

So I'll stay in tomorrow and write (and maybe do some maintenance on the printer.) And tomorrow night I'm cooking Italian and my friend is coming for dinner. Then we're going to kick up our heels at the L.Q. chachacha...