Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's all about the arts

Or at least that was my take on this week's Creative City Summit held here in Surrey. And I was very proud to play a small role in events that were put on for benefit of the delegates.

As part of the celebrations, I was invited to read my 'Surrey poem' (the one the City commissioned me to write way back in 2012) at my local Arts Centre.

So that the guests would have something to take away, staff members made colourful maple-leaf-shaped pieces of pottery with "Semiahmoo Arts 2016" stamped into them.

And I -- well, I made chapbooks.

This was how my dining room table looked a couple of days ago -- covers (with individual stampings on each) lined up down its length, drying.

The pages had already been printed, so it was just a matter of folding them and folding coloured end pages.

After that, the task of binding each book -- with, I'll admit, the simplest of methods -- just an in-and-out, tied off with a knot.

But much more impressive than my short poem was the performance by local artist, Roxanne Charles. A member of the Semiahmoo First Nation and a Director on the board of Semiahmoo Arts, she performed a dance to the accompaniment of a very moving video presentation on the Lost and Missing Women.

The photo doesn't do justice to the costume she wore, one that she'd designed and made herself. I didn't dare turn on my flash during the performance, so you'll have to zoom in and use your imagination.

I'm pretty sure the delegates who were bused down to our arts event went away with a positive impression -- and hopefully, a better understanding of just how varied and complex our sprawling city really is.

As for my symbolic rendering of that varied complexity, I hope my finished chapbooks helped to illustrate the rainbow of diversity that is Surrey.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Last week's predictions of storms -- heavy rain and strong winds -- didn't turn out to be quite accurate. There was plenty of rain and wind, but it was nowhere near as widespread as had been forecast, nor were the winds as strong as we'd been told.

No doubt the family and friends of Shakir Salaam feel otherwise. He's the boy who was killed by a falling tree in a park near his school.

Everyone says he was a wonderful person. And to be the only one struck down by this storm can only make me shake my head and wonder. Where is the fairness when such things occur -- and to someone as young as he was?

When I came home today, I spotted the beautiful rose outside at one of my neighbour's. Its perfect beauty, still holding all those raindrops from the storm, seemed to demand a photograph.

The many contradictions in the world -- so much harshness and beauty -- beyond understanding, for sure, but nonetheless worth contemplating.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The calm before the storm

Or, maybe that should be 'the calm before the storms' as more than one sounds to be heading our way.

The rains began last night -- pounding hard against the roof -- and made me glad to be cozy in my bed.

But now, they're saying we need to be ready for high winds. Towards that end, the deck chairs have all been put away for the winter. The hanging baskets are no longer hanging.

This afternoon seemed like a great time for a quietly contemplative walk along nearby Crescent Beach. I'll admit I enjoyed being pretty much the only one there. If the weather had been better, that wouldn't have been the case.

But now, I'm crossing my fingers that those wind warnings we keep getting are at least somewhat 'overblown'.

Monday, October 10, 2016


...rhymes with attitude.

I'm not sure why I never noticed that before.

In fact, maybe the word 'gratitude' is a condensed form of 'great attitude'. And if that leaves a 't' missing in the word gratitude, I'm just going to think that it must have gone away to be part of the word 'turkey', an important part in this weekend's celebration of gratitude, Thanksgiving.

We had our big meal on Saturday night, and those wild mushrooms we picked the other day played an important role. The stuffing contained bits of chanterelles, while the angel's wings mushrooms (pictured above) joined some baby bok choy and peas in a soft-spoken stir-fry.

For family and friends -- and, of course, wild mushrooms -- I am grateful today.

Friday, October 07, 2016


Wednesday was the golden day, and I'm just glad we were smart enough to get out into it while it was there, as Thursday turned rainy and blustery, with over 30,000 customers losing power last night.

We headed out into the valley and tromped around some of our favourite hiking spots, all the while keeping our eyes open for the ever-elusive wild mushrooms, and of course, paying attention for wildlife that might be around. Our whistles were put to good use, as I'd left the bell I usually wear at home. Although I've been teased and told that bears think a bell means 'dinner', I'll admit I feel more secure if I jingle when I'm hiking in the bush.

Plenty of fungi were apparent, so conditions were good, though there weren't a lot of the edible varieties. And yes, there was some evidence that others had had the same idea before we did, as we spotted the occasional stems where specimens had been cut. Unfortunately, there were also (too many) places where mushrooms appeared to have been uprooted. Sadly, they probably won't come up in those spots again.
Oddly, whenever we came across streams, the water looked vibrant and fresh, but there was no evidence of fish -- a concern to me, as this is the season when the salmon are generally spawning. They're usually in obvious abundance when we do our foraging hikes, clambering their way upstream to where they were born.

Still, the fresh air was nurturing enough to make the day feel like a success. And really, I'm sure we got enough mushrooms (three varieties) to play a role in our upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

When the days are as perfect as our 'golden' Wednesday was, it's important -- especially this time of year -- to grab it and do something outside.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


I'll admit it isn't very often that I find myself inside a church. Although I suspect this has something to do with my spending waaay too many hours in one -- and on my knees -- last night's church experience held no such negatives.

It was a rehearsal night for an event I am thrilled to be a part of, "Call & Response: An Evening of Song and Poetry". As one of five poets participating in this, my job is to write a couple of poems, each of them in response to two of the choir's songs.

Listening to the Lyric Singers was downright thrilling. Their voices resonated through the church and seemed to rise up and into the night. It may well sound weird, but I definitely had chills during some of the songs -- and it wasn't from the temperature, but from the power of voices interlinked in harmonies.

I've learned that this church, Northwood United, even has a jazz vespers service. I'm sure it would be worth taking in.

Inspiring? You bet. Inspired enough to put in some more time on tweaking those response poems.

Friday, September 30, 2016

This month sped by!

The end of September, and it's hard to believe. But it probably felt as though it sped past because so much of the month was spent, on the road -- and mostly on roads with a speed limit of 80 mph (that's over 128 klicks).

If you want to come along on our road trip, you probably want to start at the beginning, back here.

I can only trust that October, though it might not be as adventure-filled, will move along at a little slower pace.