reduction

Heather G made reser­va­tions for us (and Sergey) at the Back Lane Café last week. We hadn’t seen each other since the sum­mer, before they were home­less 1 and I started recov­er­ing. Last time I saw her, she left me with a take­out Hintonburger and a med­i­ta­tion audio­book that she hoped would help me feel bet­ter. It was so sweet that she didn’t under­stand at all what I was going through, but tried so hard to help with very thought­ful gifts anyway.

This time, she wouldn’t let me pay, even though she treated me last time as well, and she said please with such heart­felt intent that I knew she’d be hurt if I didn’t give her the hon­our. We’d been play­ing phone tag for weeks up to that point, and between their careers and camp­ing, they could only spare them­selves for a meal sans tea or dessert. It made me real­ize how pre­cious their time is nowa­days, and the fact that they made the time to see me meant so much more than the two hours we spent catch­ing up over a great food and conversation.

poached shrimp salad

Poached shrimp salad, with Niagara nec­tarines, bibb let­tuce (for it’s ten­der tex­ture), endive, lime, and hazel­nut dress­ing. An appe­tizer good enough for a main.

Continue read­ing “reduction”…

  1. They got evicted due to an unsym­pa­thetic land­lord, couldn’t find a suit­able place to stay, and ended up putting as many of their pos­ses­sions as pos­si­ble in stor­age and sell­ing the rest. Luckily, one of their friends needed a house-sitter, and it gave them enough time to find a place. []

it hasn't been quite a whole year yet

I still have fond mem­o­ries of the fall. It’s when the light is at it’s most neu­tral, not warmed by the sum­mer sun or cooled by it’s reflec­tion on the snow. The time of long show­ers, kit­ties being even more affec­tion­ate, and girls always find­ing the right spot to nes­tle under your neck.

On par­tic­u­larly bright, chilly days, with all the leaves a flat lemon-yellow, I can hardly take it all in.

cat in sunbeam

We are on this planet to move our cats directly in the path of a sun­beam every 15 minutes.

The sun­beams form a celes­tial cal­en­dar across my floor, slowly creep­ing along as they threaten to warp the wood in my instru­ments, remind­ing me that I haven’t spent a win­ter in this room yet. I can only hope the mem­o­ries will be bet­ter this time around.

These days, I still dream of a nylon-stringed beauty, with warm tones and crisp bass close to the sad­dle. I won­der what she’ll feel like under my fin­gers, mahogany or rose­wood, satin or glossy. It’s a dream that never seems far away cause I know it’ll hap­pen some day, so I try to cher­ish the anticipation.

toy plane

 

I’ve been feel­ing par­tic­u­larly nos­tal­gic. When the right song comes on, I’m taken to the time in my life when it was the only thing I played for a week straight. I used to write so much, but lately I hardly have any­thing to say it all. That’s why I’m addicted to the feel­ing of feel­ing, search­ing for inspi­ra­tion, using my dreams to keep me alive.

Singhouse Studios — Sparkle

Singhouse Studios is a voice and per­for­mance school for peo­ple of all ages, and one night every year the stu­dents per­form in a big show. This year, the show — titled Sparkle — was celebrity-themed, com­plete with a melange of hits from the last five decades, a red car­pet run­way for all the stars, and even Ottawa’s local pop heart­throb, Alex Lacasse1.

Music by Five Stripe Studios. Adrian and I worked closely to make sure the music had the right kind of play­ful energy to focus on the school’s main demographic.

I was asked to cre­ate a pro­mo­tional video for the stu­dio, so I fol­lowed the per­form­ers to tell the story of their day, from the back­stage to the main stage. I felt it was as impor­tant to see all the prepa­ra­tion as much as the per­for­mances them­selves, which is why I included footage of warm-up rou­tines, prac­tice rit­u­als, and dress rehearsals. I love to see the focus so many of the young per­form­ers have, and much of that comes out before they even step into the spotlight.

  1. Who’s been a stu­dent at the stu­dio for years now. []

I'm taking back my weekends

The prob­lem with work­ing from home is that you’re never really off. There’s always some­thing you can be doing, so it’s hard to detach and just relax. The days of the week lose their mean­ing. I haven’t had a vaca­tion in about a year, and I’ve been at home almost that whole time. It’s left me feel­ing burned out. Lisa and I are both going through the same thing at this point in our lives, and we’re try­ing to fig­ure out how to pick our­selves up from prob­lems that seem insur­mount­able when we’re liv­ing them by ourselves.

But baby steps first, and today was back to a greasy break­fast. I watched The English Patient, cause I’ve been in the mood for epics lately, and I’d been deny­ing myself the plea­sure for too long. I dis­cov­ered the part I used to place my kisses is called the supraster­nal notch. Now I won­der if she ever sees the English Patient, whether she’ll think I just stole some idea from some movie, or whether she’ll remem­ber and gen­tly fin­ger the val­ley my lips claimed as their own.

At the end of these movies, I always feel a mix­ture of emo­tions, the same when step­ping out of the Shakespearean plays I saw in high school: dejected from all the tragedy, yet amazed by such pro­found per­for­mances and pro­duc­tions. It was the same after I fin­ished read­ing Doctor Zhivago. Maybe cause I iden­tify with the poet-warriors, the themes of their love, the depths of their emo­tions, and the trap­pings of their fate. No mat­ter what the emo­tion is though, it makes me sit in the dark and write about things the way I used to.

And that’s enough for now.

I'm happy to report that my blood does clot

The best time of the year to make the drive to Darren’s house is in the Autumn. It’s about five hours door-to-door — bar­ring any traf­fic or con­struc­tion — so there’s a good chance I’ll catch a sun­rise or sun­set no mat­ter when I leave. It’s par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful when the leaves are chang­ing and the colours are at their rich­est along the stretches of the 401.

Sometimes I’ll turn on a stand-up com­edy sta­tion instead of music, and it helps take my mind off the drea­ri­ness of the less scenic parts1. It’s like hav­ing another per­son to talk to, except the con­ver­sa­tion goes one way, and they tend to be funny when not overly polit­i­cal2 or Andrew Dice Clay.

Chinese dishes

Zhaliang and clas­sic Cantonese noo­dles. #thingsIcouldeateveryday

I still think of mov­ing back to Toronto, where there’s every­thing that isn’t avail­able to me in Ottawa. But I hate all the things that come with such an unwieldy and poorly amal­ga­mated city. At my age, I value com­fort over excite­ment, and Toronto has become a city that’s bet­ter to visit than to stay.

After meet­ing Mike in London, I knew that’s where I was meant to live, with Bloc Party and Monty Python and The Underground and rainy weather and Portishead and a bil­lion accents and Only Fools and Horses and that stoic British men­tal­ity and Paris just a train ride away. But that wasn’t my fate, and the dirty streets of Toronto are the clos­est I’ll ever get to that.

Continue read­ing “I’m happy to report that my blood does clot”…

  1. Usually the small towns with no charm or per­son­al­ity. []
  2. Cause I never get it. []